MEMORIALS OF PETER A. JAY
In the of the York
Memorials of Peter A. Jay
Compiled for his Descendants
By his Great-grandson
'Deo duce perseverandum"
Printed for Private Qrculation
Copyright, 1905, by
PRINTED BY G. J. THIBME, HOLLAND
3irth and parentage of Peter A. Jay, 1 . Early life at Liberty Hall, 1 .
Appointment of John Jay to the Spanish mission, 2. Removal
of the Jay family from Rye to Fishkill, 3. John Jay and Mrs.
Jay sail for Europe, 3. Little Peter engaged in study, 4. Death
of Grandfather Jay, 5.
ohn Jay in Paris, 5. The Anglo-American Treaty concluded, 6.
Like at Chaillot, 6. John Jay's family, 6. Return to America, 6.
John Jay builds himself a house, 7. Becomes Secretary of For-
eign Affairs, 7. Young Peter's early school-days, 8. Death
of Mr. and Mrs Livingston, 8, 9. Character of Governor
Livingston, 9, 10. Death of Anna Maricka Jay, 10. Peter enters
Columbia College, 10. His classmates, 11. John Jay made
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 11.
Jnfriendly feeling between Great Britain and the United States,
12. John Jay goes to England as Envoy Extraordinary, 12.
Peter accompanies him as private secretary, 14. Peter sees many
places of interest and is entertained in English houses, 14 18.
Visit to Sir William Herschel, 18. His forty-foot telescope, 18.
In Copley's studio, 18. Father and son meet Mr. Pitt, 18.
Young Jay dines on Lord Mayor's Day with the Skinner's
Guild, 18. Signing of the Treaty, 19. Peter attends an
English court of law, 19. Makes a trip into Scotland and sees
the north of England, 19, 20. Is introduced to Dugald Stewart
and hears him lecture, 20. Impressions of York Minster by
night, 20. Peter rides to hounds, 21 , 22. Sees Mrs. Siddons
and Mr. Kemble at Drury Lane, 22. Father and son return to
the United States, 23.
Peter goes to Philadelphia to settle accounts of English mission, 23.
John Jay is elected Governor of New York, 24. Marriage, at
the Government House, of" Kitty " Ridley to John Livingston,
24, Governor Jay declines re-election, 25. Peter commen-
ces the study of law, 25. New York excited by revolutionary
doctrines, 25. Extracts from correspondence with Judge
Woodward of Virginia, 26 31. Peter joins the militia, 32.
Becomes president of a Literary Society, 32. Is admitted to the
Bar, 32. Licensed to practise in Supreme Court of New York,
32. Receives honorary degree from Yale College, 32. Super-
intends survey of land, 33.
Yellow fever in New York City, 33, 34. Peter receives Mayor's
Court License, 34. His life in town, 34. His sister Maria's
marriage, 35. The Jays establish a country home, 35. Descrip-
tion of the Bedford place, 36. Family life at Bedford, 36.
Death of Mrs. John Jay, 37. Deaths of John Jay's two brothers,
Augustus and Frederick, 38. Sketch of the latter, 38, 39.
Peter begins the practice of law, 39. Goes abroad for his
health, 39. His letter to his sister, Mrs. Banyer, 40. Ex-
tracts from his diary, 41 49. A Mediterranean cruise, 44 47.
Italy, 4752. Paris, 52, 53. The Louisiana Purchase, 53.
Peter describes the birthplace of his ancestors, 54, 55. His
return to New York, 55.
3 eter spends a winter in Bermuda, 56 57. Returns to Bedford,
57. Correspondence with Judge Territt, 58. Peter retires to
Bedford, 58. Ogden Hoffman, 59. Death of Mr. P. A. Jay's
brother-in-law, Goldsborough Banyer, 60.
ilarriage of Peter A. Jay to Mary R. Ckrkson, 60. Interchange
of congratulatory letters between the fathers-in-law, 61 62.
Birth of John Ckrkson Jay, 64. Peter A. Jay becomes identified
with various philanthropic and religious organizations, 64, 65.
The " Trinity Church Riot," 6566.
Dration on Washington, 67 69. Death of Eve, eldest child of
Peter Jay and Mary Van Cortlandt, 70. Sketch of her husband,
Henry Munro, 70. Removal to Pine Street, 71. Birth of a
daughter to the Jays, 71. Mr. Jay nominated for Congress, 71.
Elected, but election declared void, 72. Nominated again
and defeated, 72. Mrs. Banyer, on the death of her father-in-
kw, moves to New York from Albany, 72. She moves again
to Bedford, 73. Difficulties of provincial living in those days,
Difficulty in investing money at this period, 74, 75. The War
of 1812, 75. The Treaty of Ghent, 76. Jay takes prominent
part in endeavor to establish savings-banks, 77. Legiskture
defeats the movement, 78. The Bank for Savings, 78. Death
of Jay's blind uncle Peter, 80. Jay's first journey by steamboat,
81. Sketch of Sir James Jay, 81. His death, 82.
Birth of a fourth child, 82. Jay becomes member of the House
of Assembly, 82. Canal Navigation Bill, 83. Opposed, but
finally passed, 84. Governorship offered to Mr. Jay, but de-
clined, 85. Rufus King nominated, 86. Jay's speech, 87 92.
Governor Daniel D. Tompkins re-elected, 92.
Slavery abolished in the State of New York, 93. Mr. Jay builds
himself a house, 94, 95. Another daughter born, 95. Cor-
respondence between Jay and Dr. Robert Hare, 95 98. Jay
appointed Recorder, 99. Is succeeded by Richard Riker, 102.
Testimonial from New York Bar Association on Jay's retirement
from the Recordership, 102103.
Revision of the Constitution of the State of New York, 104.
Account of the Convention and its various acts, 104 108.
Ratification of the new Constitution, 109. Jay resumes his law
practice, 110. Birth of his second son, Peter Augustus Jay, 110.
The Rye Estate, 110, 111. Yellow fever in New York, 111.
Letter of Jay to Captain White of the Royal Navy, 112 114.
Visit of La Fayette to United States, 115. Death of General
Life at Rye, 117118. J. Fenimore Cooper, 119. Foundation
of his story " The Spy," 119120. Cooper goes abroad, 120.
Meets Sir Walter Scott, 122. Mr. Jay has various social
and philanthropic offices offered him, but accepts none, 123.
Death of Governor Clinton, 124. Birth of eighth child to the
Founding of New York Law Institute Library, 125 126. Marriage
of Jay's daughter Mary Rutherfurd Jay, 127. Death of John
Jay, 128. A comparison of Jay and Hamilton, 129 131 . Letter
to J. Fenimore Cooper, 132133. Founding of " The Club,"
Letters from J. Fenimore Cooper concerning political state of
Europe, and various social matters there, 135 143. Mr. Jay's
reply, 149 150. General Jackson's election, 150.
Letters from James I. Roosevelt, Jr., in Paris, 151 155. Harvard
University bestows degree upon Mr. Jay, 155, 156. President
of Public School Society, 156. Marriage of John Ckrkson Jay,
156. Letter from Mr. Jay to J. Fenimore Cooper, 157 161.
Anti-Slavery Society represses kidnapping of negroes, 161. Peter
A. Jay as churchman, 161 162. Asiatic cholera in New York,
162, 163. Jay resigns presidency of New York Hospital, 163.
Correspondence following his resignation, 164 166. Jay settles
boundary dispute between New York and New Jersey, 167 169.
Letter from Jay to Cooper, 170 172.
Early railway travel, 172. Experiences of Mrs. Peter A. Jay and
Mr. William Jay, 172174. Death of Peter Jay Munro, 175.
Sketch of his life, 175. Hospitality in the Jay mansion, 176.
Lists of guests, 176 177. Death of Mrs. Frederick Prime,
178. The Great Fire, 178 179. Marrkges of Helen and
Sarah Jay, 179. Description of home at Rye, 179180.
Letter from Jay to his sister, Mrs. Banyer, in England, 180 182.
New house at Rye finished, 182. Mrs. Jay's health grows worse,
182. The family go to Madeira, 183. The voyage, 183.
Description of the home at Funchal, 183. Mrs. Jay grows
stil worse, 184. Her death, 184. Mr. Jay on the people and
religion of Madeira, 185. His description of the island, 186.
Jay's estimate of his father's character, 190. Election of W.
H. Harrison, 191. Views of Jay on the situation, 191 192.
Death of the President, 192. " The Northeastern Boundary
Question," 192. Jay writes to his English cousin on the sub-
ject, 193, 194. The Public School Society, 194. Contention
over school funds by Protestants and Catholics, 194. Marriage
of Anna Maria Jay, 195. Mr. Jay to his brother William,
195 197. Dinner to Lord Ashburton, 197. Mr. Jay invited
to preside, 197198. Lord Ashburton's speech, 199, 200.
Mr. Jay becomes president of the New York Historical Society,
201. A permanent home erected for the Society, 201. Jay
delivers an inaugural address at Columbia, 203. A rsum6 of
the character of Peter A. Jay, 203 206. Death of Mrs. Banyer
and Miss Ann Jay, 207. Sketch of Judge William Jay, 207.
His death, 208. Death of Peter A. Jay, 209. Resolutions and
memorials upon the death of Mr. Jay, 211 215.
Last Will and Testament of Peter A. Jay 216
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PETER A. JAY. 1833. Age 57 Frontispiece
In the possession of the New York Hospital.
JOHN JAY 6
Mrs. JOHN JAY 8
In the possession of Mr. Banyer Clarkson.
JOHN JAY. Grc. 1794. Age 49 20
In the possession of Dr. John C. Jay.
PETER A. JAY. 1797. Age 21 24
MARIA JAY. 1798. Age 16. Afterward Mrs. Banyer ... 34
PETER A. JAY 60
In the possession of Mr. John Jay Pierrepont.
MATTHEW CLARKSON. 1823. Age 64 116
In the possession of the family of Mr. and Mrs. David Clarkson.
Mrs. PETER A. JAY 176
RESIDENCE AT RYE 182
In 1838 when house was finished.
IN the following pages little more has been attempted than
to put on record such Memorials of Mr. Jay as his public
services, his addresses and his correspondence furnish; and
to these have been added some account of his otherwise
personal and family history.
There are those who have not forgotten the refining in-
fluence of Mr. Jay's character upon the men and institutions
of his own time, as well as upon those of the succeeding
generations; and it was in order that still others might be
brought to some extent within the sphere of that influence
that the Memorials here presented have been compiled.
New York, November, 1905.
PETER A. JAY
PETER AUGUSTUS JAY was the eldest child of John
Jay and Sarah Van Brugh Livingston.
He was born January 24, 1776, at "Liberty Hall,"
Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, the residence of his maternal
grandfather, William Livingston, who later became governor
of New Jersey.
In 1774 Mr. and Mrs. Jay were married in the great parlor
of this hall. The property had been purchased in 1771 by
Mr. Livingston and the hall was erected by him in the follow-
It was the era of the struggle for American Independence,
and Mr. Livingston and his talented son-in-law were soon
to have their names associated with a period as great in
interest, perhaps, as any the world has ever known. The
earlier marriage of the Jays had been interrupted by these
troubles; soon after the wedding the young husband was
attending a meeting of citizens of New York convened to
consider the serious political situation.
For the next three years Mrs. Jay and her son remained
with Grandfather Livingston, who became very fond of the
little boy. The Hall could scarcely be said in those cheerless
summers and more cheerless winters to have afforded a very
PETER A. JAY
pleasant shelter, for the place attracted occasional raiding
parties and almost everything that the house contained was
either pillaged or destroyed. For a time the family were
obliged to desert their home for a more safe retreat, while, to
add to their other trials, a large reward was offered by the
English for the capture of the rebel governor, whose active
service caused him to be much of his time in the saddle.
At the end of these three years, Congress deeming it advis-
able to open negotiations with Spain, and determined on
despatching thither a minister plenipotentiary, selected John
Jay for this important mission. With Jay was to go his wife,
to the great distraction of Governor and Mrs. Livingston,
who were given no chance to bid their daughter good-by.
Little Peter was to be left at the Hall under the immediate
care of his eldest aunt, Susannah, who in after years became
Mrs. Symmes. Susannah was a great wit and very clever, as
were all her sisters.
The advance of the British into Westchester County and
the depredations of the Tories and the cow-boys determined
Peter Jay, the paternal grandfather of young Peter, to remove
his family from the Homestead at Rye, Westchester County,
to Fishkill-on-the-Hudson. Mr. Jay, having acquired a com-
petency as a merchant, had retired in 1745 from business in
the city, and purchased a country place at Rye for the benefit
of his children, Peter and Anna Maricka, both of whom were
deprived of their sight in infancy by the smallpox. Here
John Jay spent his childhood, going to school at New
When Peter Jay removed his family from Rye to Fishkill,
REMOVAL TO HSHKILL
of his ten children three had died in infancy : James, Frederick,
and Mary; three had married: John, Frederick, and Eve; thus
leaving four at home: Augustus, the eldest son, Sir James,
and the two blind children, Peter and Anna Markka.
It was on the 19th or 20th of October, 1776, that the
family left Rye. On reaching Fishkill, they occupied a house
which belonged to Dr. Van Wyck. This house is described
as standing on a gentle elevation in the midst of a beautiful
region; near by flowed the Wiccopee, a mountain stream
making its way among green meadows. One night in the
month of April, during the residence here of the Jays, the
cow-boys crossed the mountains and stole from the house a
large quantity of silver plate and money. The tramp of their
horses as they came over the bridge was long afterward re-
membered. It was in this house that Mr. Peter Jay's wife,
Mary Van Cortlandt, a daughter of Jacobus Van Cortlandt
and Eva Philipse, died on April 17, 1777. Here, too, on the
eve of his appointed mission to Spain, John Jay parted from
his father, never to see him again.
Mr. Jay and his wife embarked from Chester, below Phila-
delphia, October 26, 1779, on the Continental frigate Con-
federacy. They were to proceed to Madrid by way of Paris.
In the party of the Envoy were Mrs. Livingston's brother,
Brockholst Livingston, as Jay's private secretary, and the
Hon. William Carmichael as Secretary of Legation. Violent
storms disabled the vessel; being dismantled she split her
rudder on the 7th of November, and on the 18th of December
put into Martinico, whence the voyage was continued in a
French ship, the Aurora. It was not until the 22d of January,
PETER A. JAY
1780, that the American party arrived at Cadiz. It is also
related that before reaching the Spanish coast, they narrowly
escaped capture by a fleet of six English ships of the line.
The mission required a sojourn in both Spain and France.
Meanwhile through letters from home the Jays were kept
informed of the welfare and progress of young Peter. Now
and then it was reported that he had been taken to Pough-
keepsie, whither the family had removed from Fishkill, to see
his grandfather Jay, with whom he soon became as great a
favorite as with his grandfather Livingston. One of the
letters states that, except for a slight defect in his utterance,
he could speak and read as well as any boy of six years, and
still another letter, written a year later, says : " He is very
ambitious to write as well as his aunt Susan, his instruc-
tress " and the writer continues, " Peter looking over his
copy for the day, ' commend virtuous deeds/ 1 must do more
than that," said the young student, " I must imitate them."
When the family came to Poughkeepsie, they resided with
Mr. Frederick Jay, better known among his intimate friends,
as " Fady," a brother of John. Little Peter was always a
welcome visitor there. In writing to him, in December,
1783, his grandfather Livingston said, "My dear Peter
Jay, I hear that when you were in the church in New York,
and the minister prayed for King George, that you shooked
your head, as much as to say, you did not like it. It was right
in those people to pray for thek King, because, he is their
King, but you not thinking of that, and being a good Whig,
have got great honor by shaking your head, and grandpapa
is always pleased when his dear little Peter gets honor."
JOHN JAY IN PARIS
Later letters carried across the sea the sad intelligence of
the death of Mr. Peter Jay at Poughkeepsie. In his letter
Frederick writes : " It gives me great pain to inform you that
it pleased God to take him from us on the morning of the
17th inst. (April, 1782) and was yesterday interred (April 19)
in the vault of Gysbert Schenck, Esq., at Fishkill. It is very
remarkable that he expired on the same day and month and
the very hour that our poor mother did five years before."
Peter Jay was eighty years of age at the time of his death.
He was the only son of Augustus Jay, the Huguenot, and
Anna Maria Bayard. Mrs. Jay was the daughter of Balthazar
Bayard and granddaughter of Colonel Nicholas Bayard, of
Alphen, near Leyden, Holland; the latter married a sister of
Governor Stuyvesant. Peter Jay was the sole survivor of his
father's family. Judith, his eldest sister, had married Cor-
nelius J. Van Home. Mary married Peter Vallete, and
Frances married Frederick Van Cortlandt. The death, in her
seventy-ninth year, of the last of these three sisters, occurred
at the Van Cortlandt Manor House, Lower Yonkers, eigh-
teen months before her brother's death. The only other
member of the family was Ann, the youngest, who died in
infancy. The estate at Rye now became the property of
Peter's son Peter, the younger of the two blind children.
On the 23d June, 1782, John Jay arrived in Paris, where he
had been appointed to act in conjunction with Franklin,
Adams, Laurens, and Jefferson, in negotiating, under the
advice and approval of the French government, the definitive
treaty of peace with England. Of these four only Franklin
was now in Paris. Laurens was a prisoner in the Tower of
PETER A. JAY
London and Jefferson was in America. Before long, how-:
ever, Adams returned from Holland and the negotiations
were begun, being continued with more or less interruption
until the 3d September, when the Provisional Articles were
adopted and signed as the final treaty between England and
the United States* In Adams's diary is found this item:
" The French call me ' Lc Washington de la Negotiation/
a very flattering compliment indeed, to which I have no right,
but sincerely think it belongs to Mr. Jay.**
In the autumn Mr. Jay took a house at Chaillot, near Passy,
and there Mrs. Jay and the younger children spent several
months while Jay himself went to England to try the waters
of Bath for his health. About this time Governor Livingston
writes to Mrs. Jay: " My sweet little Peter is now standing
at my elbow. He is really and without flattery one of the
handsomest boys in the country.**
Three daughters had been born to them on the foreign
soil, Susan, Maria, and Ann. Susan, an infant, died at
Madrid, in 1780, and was buried in a vault at the Flemish
chapel in that city. Maria also was born in Spain, February
20, 1782, and the younger, Ann, in France, August 13, 1783.
With the Spanish birthright of the elder of these two daugh-
ters there were certainly no ancestral sympathies, but the
birth of the younger in the home of the Huguenots must have
awakened in the mind of Mr. Jay vivid memories of the home
from which his ancestors had been driven into exile just a
After an absence of five years, the work of the mission
being accomplished, die Jay family returned home. They
C0#g>rft at Madrid.
NEW YORK WELCOMES JOHN JAY
embarked from Dover in a vessel which arrived at New York,
July 24, 1784. John Jay received a warm welcome on his
return. He was presented by the city fathers with an address
and the freedom of the city in a golden box " as a pledge of
our affection and of our sincere wishes for your happiness/*
Soon after his arrival Mr. Jay began to build for himself a
house which was then known as Number 8 Broadway. It
stood on the east side, a little south of the street now known
as Exchange Pkce.
John Quincy Adams tells us, " When I first set foot in
New York, in 1785, the present great city of the Empire
State had but 18,000 inhabitants, and while I tarried at John
Jay's, that gentleman was laying the foundation of a house in
Broadway at a distance of a quarter of a mile from any other
From a conversation referring to the early history of the
city, reported in " The Talisman " for 182930, between Mr.
Gulian Verplanck and Mons. Villecour, this house is described
as " a square, three-story house of hewn stone, as substan-
tially built within as without, durable, spacious, and commo-
dious; and, like the principles of the builder, always useful
and excellent, whether in or out of fashion. . . ." " No re-
maining object," said Mons. Villecour, " brings Mr. Jay to
my mind so strongly as the square pew in Trinity Church,
about the center of the north side of the north aisle. . . . That
pew was the scene of his regular, sober, unostentatious devo-
tion and I never look at it without a feeling of veneration."
Mr. Jay was now Secretary for Foreign Affairs, an office
to which he had been appointed by Congress a short time
PETER A. JAY
before he came back from England, and the duties of which
he continued to discharge until Jefferson's return from
France in 1790.
In the " stone house," Mrs. Jay, who, by natural graces and
knowledge of the world, was so admirably fitted for social
life, entertained at her table her numerous personal friends,
American statesmen and distinguished foreigners.
We have no authentic information about young Peter dur-
ing the interval which elapsed between the return of his
parents from Europe, when he was eight years old, and his
matriculation at Columbia College an interval which em-
braced a period of six years, from 1784 to 1790. Previous
to this time he had been at school in Elizabeth Town and in
Poughkeepsie. His early diligence in study and his ambition
to excel can leave little doubt that the same assiduity and the
same desire to gain success were continued at some school in
the city, the name of which unfortunately has not come down
When eleven years old, Peter received from his ever faithful
and devoted grandfather, Governor Livingston, a letter ex-
pressing the wish that Peter would send to him " two lines
in Latin, to be of your own composition, without the least
consultation with any one else " ; and the governor sends love
to his Spanish and French granddaughters. In another letter
to Peter his grandfather tells him to " honor your parents.
For, thank Heaven, we have no king to honor, love the
United States and your books."
The deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Livingston brought great
sorrow to the Jays. Mrs. Livingston's death occurred on the
MRS. JOHN JAY
In the possession of Mr Banyer Clarkson
PETER A. JAY
love of religion which unostentatiously, but intimately was
incorporated with his whole character. The period of his
death was fortunate for himself: He lived long enough to see
the last seal set to the independence of the country in its new
constitution, and the guidance of its energies in the hands of
the individual whom he most esteemed. He did not live to
see the unprecedented violence of that storm which so long
convulsed the republic, rending asunder old friendships, up-
rooting reputations apparently the best founded and which
would probably have swept bim from the eminence that, as
it was, he occupied till the time of his death. He died in
possession of the honors he had received; all it was in the
power of the State to bestow, and with a character unsullied,
even by the breath of faction."
The " New York Daily Advertiser " of the following year
(September 9, 1791) contains this notice: " On Sunday even-
ing last (Sept. 4) departed this life, in the 54th year of her age,
at her brother Peter Jay's seat at Rye, Miss Anna Markka
Jay, a lady whose excellent understanding and uniform bene-
ficence and piety rendered her very estimable. Although she
enjoyed a handsome income, far beyond her wants and was
frugal: yet she never added to her estate, but constantly em-
ployed the residue m doing good. Among other legacies
dictated by humanity and benevolence, she has bequeathed
one hundred pounds to the Episcopal Church at Rye."
Young Peter Jay was now to enter, at the early age of
fourteen, Columbia College. His father had been a graduate
of the same college, under its former name of King's College,
and in 1764 delivered the Latin Salutatory address, which
CHIEF-JUSTICE JOHN JAY
was then regarded as the highest collegiate honor. Among
the classmates of the younger Jay in his Junior year was
Peter G. Stuyvesant, a lifelong and intimate friend, and Cyrus
King, member of Congress; and in the classes immediately
below him were Daniel D. Tompkins, later Governor of
New York and Vice-President of the United States, and Ed-
ward P. Livingston, of Clermont, subsequently Lieutenant-
Governor of New York. During Jay's freshman year,among
the students in the Junior class was John Randolph of Mat-
toax, Virginia, better known afterward as Randolph of Roa-
noke. William Samuel Johnson, son of the first president
of King's College, was at this time president of Columbia
being the first one to hold that position after the Revolu-
From 1789 to 1795 John Jay was Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States. He writes in 1791 to
his son Peter in college : " You have read the ancient history ;
now, therefore, is the time to read more in detail the histories
of the great men that have figured in it. Among biogra-
phers, Plutarch is certainly entitled to the first place. To
enjoy the experiences of others without paying the price
which it often costs them, is pleasant as well as profitable.
Manhood is the same in all ages, however diversified by color,
manners, or customs. To regulate our conduct wisely rela-
tive to men is the most difficult task we have to perform in
the course of our lives. To know them is necessary, but not
easy. History will teach us much, but unremitted obser-
vation more; both assist each other. Habituate yourself to
trace actions up to their motives."
PETER A. JAY
As a lad, Peter had shown talent in drawing and painting,
some early sketches by him being still extant, and his father,
evidently to encourage him to develop this taste, writes to
him at Rye from Boston, while on circuit: "Your mama
mentions your having gone to Rye and that the family are
well Remember me to your uncle and aunt. You have
now a fine opportunity to try your hand at Landscape, es-
pecially if you visit the rocks on the bank by the waterside
when the tide is up."
The theatre of war had now changed. The struggle with
the American Colonies was at an end and for a time quiet
prevailed in Europe. There were mutterings, however, of a
coming storm which in a few years would burst in the French
Revolution. Irritation and agitation had also broken out
between Great Britain and the United States; the com-
plaints which invited consideration were many and compli-
cated. To harmonize the unfriendly feeling and to adjust
the differences which were assuming a serious aspect required
the attention of this government. Mr. Jay in a letter to his
wife dated Philadelphia, April 15, 1794, writes: " I expect,
my dear Sally, to see you sooner than we expected. There
is here a serious determination to send me to England, if
possible to avert a war. Nothing can be much more distant
from every wish on my own account. I feel the impulse of
duty strongly and it is probable that if on the investigation I
am now making, my mind should be convinced that it is my
duty to go, you will join with me in thinking that in an occa-
sion so important, I ought to follow its dictates and commit
myself to the care and kindness of that Providence in which
JOHN JAY'S MISSION TO ENGLAND
we have both the highest reason to repose the most absolute
His commission as Envoy Extraordinary follows in a day
or two. Again writing to Mrs. Jay, he says: " Your own
feelings will best suggest an idea of mine. God's will be
done in him I confide: do the like any other philosophy
applicable to this occasion is delusive. Away with it. Your
indisposition affects me. Resist despondency hope for the
In reply to his letters Mrs. Jay writes to her husband:
" NEW YORK, 22 April, 1794.
" My dear Mr. Jay :
" Yesterday I received your two kind letters of Saturday
and Sunday. I do, indeed, judge of your feelings by my
own and for that reason forbore writing while under the first
impression of surprise and grief.
, " Your superiority in fortitude as well as every other virtue
I am aware of: yet I know too well your tenderness for your
family to doubt the pangs of separation. Your own conflicts
are sufficient: they need not be augmented by the addition of
mine. Never was I more sensible of the absolute ascendency
you have over my heart. When, almost in despair, I renoun-
ced the hope of domestic bliss, your image in my heart seemed
to upbraid me with adding to your trials. That idea alone
roused me from my despondency. I resumed the charge of
my family and even dare hope that, by your example, I shall
be enabled to look up to that Divine Protector from whom
we have indeed experienced the most merciful guardianship,
PETER A. JAY
" The children continue well. They were exceedingly
affected when they received the tidings and entreated me to
endeavor to dissuade you from accepting an appointment
that subjects us to so painful a separation.
" Farewell, my best beloved. Your wife till death, and
after that a ministering spirit,
" SARAH JAY."
John Jay took with him as private secretary his son Peter,
who had just received his degree at Columbia. They sailed
on the 12th of May, 1794, in the ship Ohio, arriving at Fal-
mouth on the 8th of June. Mr. Jay's secretary, Trumbull,
the artist, wrote that they must have been near, almost within
hearing, of the decisive naval battle between the British and
French fleet which was fought on that day. The English in
this year had met with little success on land, but had been
triumphant at sea.
On arrival at Falmouth they were met by the American
consul, Mr. Fox, and for the next few pages we shall have an
opportunity of learning from a Journal kept by the younger
Jay, now a lad of eighteen, of his experience and the impres-
sions he received during a visit to England and Scotland.
Among the first objects which arrested the young man's
attention on his way up to London in the mail-coach from
Falmouth, was an old castle at Launceston which, he says,
" was formerly of great extent and which before the invention
of firearms must have been as impregnable as Gibraltar is
now." Then he adds, " almost every view of this venerable
ruin is singularly picturesque, the immense elevation of the
ARRIVAL IN LONDON
works, the walls covered with ivy and the contrast they form
with the adjacent town and country around it altogether for-
med a scene which was to me as novel as it was delightful."
Of Taunton on the same route he relates, " The country
round Taunton, especially on this side, is beautiful beyond
expression formed by nature in gentle slopes and extensive
vales and in the highest possible stage of cultivation the eye
dwells upon it with pleasure and the more so since it is the
evidence of thrift and prosperity." Continuing his journey,
he visits the Cathedral at Exeter and at length reaches Wells.
At the latter place he seemed lost in admiration of its cathe-
dral. He calls it " a magnificent building " and is surprised
" how these people whom we call ignorant and who certainly
were among the most contemptible of statuaries could give
that light and finished appearance to stone which baffles the
skill of the modern artist." He alludes, at the same time, to
" the vast size of the building, the massiveness and yet light
appearance of the columns, the loftiness of the arches. The
knowledge of their antiquity and the idea that you are tram-
pling upon the dust of kings, of heroes, and of saints conspire
to diffuse a solemn stillness over the soul and fill it with vene-
ration and reverence, while the mouldering monuments of
men who were once illustrious and reverenced, but whose
names are now preserved by mere inscriptions on decaying
stones tell that even Fame must die." He pursues his journey
to Bath, thence to Windsor, and arrives at the Bath Hotel in
London on the 15th of June, having travelled with his father
from Falmouth about three hundred miles. At Bath they
were welcomed by the American minister, Mr. Thomas
PETER A. JAY
Pinckney, with whom they dined on reaching London the
next day. The fashionable hour for dinner at that time in
London, says Jay, was half-past five or six. On the following
day he, through the courtesy of Mr. Paradise, had the oppor-
tunity of being present at one of the sessions of the trial of
Warren Hastings. Jay tells us in his Journal that " he had
the pleasure of hearing Mr. Edmund Burke conclude his ar-
gument at this trial, the most remarkable which has ever
taken place in the English nation " and in continuation he
adds, " it has already lasted seven years, and as the Lords have
determined to take time to consider before they pronounce
judgment, its final close is still at a distance." " Mr. Burke,"
says Jay, " was vastly eloquent, but not sufficiently so to
awaken the attention of their Lordships, who seemed far
more inattentive than the surrounding audience."
In the meantime the American Envoy Extraordinary had
removed his lodgings from the Bath Hotel to the Royal
Hotel, from which he sends the following letter to Lord
" PALL MALL, HOTEL ROYAL,
" June 15, 1794.
" My Lord:
" I arrived here this morning. The journey has given me
some health and much pleasure, nothing having occurred on
the road to induce me to wish it shorter. Col. Trumbull
does me the favor of accompanying me as secretary, and I
have brought with me a son who I am anxious should form
a right estimate of whatever may be interesting to our coun-
INTERVIEW WITH LORD GRENVILLE
try. Will you be so obliging, my Lord, as to permit me to
present them to you and to inform me of the time when it
will be most agreeable to your Lordship that I should wait
upon you and assure you of the respect with which I have the
honor to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient and
most humble servant,
By appointment, on the 18th of June, Mr. Jay, his son, and
the Secretary, Mr. Trumbull, were introduced by Mr. Pinck-
ney to Lord Grenville, the Foreign Secretary. Upon his in-
terview with Lord Grenville, Jay suggested that the subject
which invited discussion should not be regarded as a trial of
diplomatic fencing, but a solemn question of peace or war
between two peoples in whose veins flowed the blood of a
common ancestry. " Happily," says a writer, " for America,
for England, for the world, we may say, not only did Jay
carry with him that spirit into the negotiation, but in the
British secretary, Lord Grenville, found a man of congenial
On the day following his introduction to Lord Grenville,
young Jay dined with Mr. Church in company with Mr.
Charles James Fox, of whom Jay writes, " this gentleman,
though so highly celebrated, has certainly not the appearance
of either talent or gentility."
Numerous breakfasts and dinners followed during the stay
of Peter and his father in London, at which his father was
sometimes guest, sometimes host, and young Jay almost
always one of the company. In this way the latter made the
PETER A. JAY
acquaintance of many of the most eminent men in the king-
dom, both in church and state, as well as of representative
members of the British aristocracy.
On the 2d of July John Jay had an audience with the King
(George HI) and on the next day with the Queen.
" I began to read Blackstone," was Peter's record for the
9th of July.
The public interest taken in Sir William Herschers great
telescope attracted the attention of the Jays, and they readily
accepted an invitation from Lord Grenville to visit the as-
tronomer. Jay described the instrument as forty feet long
and five feet in diameter. He says, " we actually walked
through it." Through the power of this telescope, which was
only finished in 1789, Herschel made men realize as they had
never realized before, the immensity of the universe. Early
in the following month father and son dined with the Lord
Chancellor at Hampstead and here met Mr. Pitt, Mr. Wind-
ham, the Master of the Rolls, the Advocate-General, and
Lord Mansfield. At Mr. Copley's a few days later, they saw
on the easel of the artist an unfinished portrait of Charles the
First. This picture and the Gibraltar, by the same artist, at
the Guildhall, were much admired by young Jay. It was
also his good fortune to be present at the Royal Academy
when Benjamin West, as president, having succeeded Sir
Joshua Reynolds, delivered the Biennial Discourse.
We read next in the Journal that young Jay had accepted
an invitation to dinner on Lord Mayor's Day with the Skin-
ners Company, one of the trade companies or guilds, many
of them of very ancient date, at which some two or three
PETER VISITS EDINBURGH
hundred guests were present. Toasts followed the dinner,
and all standing and with three cheers drank to the senti-
ment, " Prosperity to the United States of America and to
Mr. Jay, their minister." On this occasion Peter's father
dined at the Lord Mayor's.
The nineteenth of November, 1794, witnessed the signing
of " The Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation "
between Great Britain and the United States, by John Jay and
Following the Journal, we find that in this same month
took place at the Old Bailey the trial of John Horne Tooke
for high treason, and it was a source of much regret to Peter
that the acceptance of a dinner invitation denied him the
pleasure of hearing Erskine in his opening speech for the
defence. He was able, however, to be present at the trial
afterward, and was much impressed with the conduct of the
court and of the counsel on both sides, which he describes as
in the highest degree patient, candid and impartial. Of the
counsel, he says more particularly, " they were all men of
ability and eloquence, particularly Erskine, but none of them
orators as great as I had expected, or the superiors of Burr and
Harrison of New York." An opportunity now occurred
which must have offered much pleasure to young Jay, namely :
to make a visit to Edinburgh. He started in the mail-coach
on the 12th of December, leaving his father in London. On
the following day he arrived at York, and spent the next day,
Sunday, in that city. An entry in his account-book reads,
" Paid for seat in mail coach to York 197 miles, 3. 13. 6."
He tells us that the Minster was the noblest Gothic Cathedral
PETER A. JAY
he had yet seen. " I really think it more elegant/' he con-
tinued, " that is to say more suitable to the purpose for which
it was founded, than S. Paul's, which is much larger/' In
resuming now his journey he exchanges the mail-coach for a
Durham Cathedral in his view was inferior to that of York.
At Alnwick he regretted he had not the time to visit the
modern castle of the Northumberlands and he added," though
I am exceedingly fond of Gothic buildings, when really anti-
que, yet I think it is as absurd to rear edifices in the present
day to resemble ancient structures, as it would be to wear the
dress of our ancestors who built them. Indeed this sort of
architecture owes much of its effect to the ideas which it con-
veys of extreme antiquity." He arrived at Edinburgh on the
17th of December. The beauty of the new part of the town
immediately attracted his attention as well as the charming
view to be obtained in walking around Calton Hill. At the
University, where the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws
had been conferred on his father in 1792, young Jay was
introduced to Dugald Stewart, at that time professor of moral
philosophy, and to Doctor Playfair, professor of mathe-
Three hundred and fifty students attended Mr. Stewart's
lectures. His eloquence much impressed Jay, who made one
of Mr. Stewart's guests at dinner a few days later.
On his return journey to London, he again rested at York,
and visited the Minster by night. He writes: " I found it
lighted with about a dozen candles ; the effect of this partial
and faint illumination was very grand. The immense masses
C i RC . 1 7 94 . A OR 49
In of Dr. John C. Jay
PETER HUNTS IN ENGLAND
of shade, the vast and gloomy arches, the indistinct view of
crowded and enormous columns, the solemn stillness of all
around and the hollow echo of footsteps which alone distur-
bed the silence of the place, all conspired to impress one's
mind with sentiments of veneration and awe." Leaving
York, he was back again in London on the last day of the
year. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Grenville, Lord Amherst
and a number of the other Cabinet Ministers dined with John
Jay soon after his son's return from Scotland, and on the
following day they both breakfasted with the Marquis of
Lansdowne; a few days afterward the Marquis invited them
to dinner. Here they found the library very elegant, and the
books and manuscripts invaluable.
Two other incidents of travel remain to be told before we
close these extracts from young Jay's Journal. The one gave
him an opportunity of testing his skill in riding to hounds.
It was through the courtesy of Sir Clement and Lady Cottrell
that this pleasure was afforded the youth. The account reads :
" This morning " it was the llth of February " though
the weather was very unfavorable Sir Clement determined
that we should hunt the hare we accordingly went out with
his harriers; I was well mounted. About three miles from
the house the hounds were thrown off and in a few minutes
found and instantly killed, or, as the huntsmen call it, * chopt *
a hare. Thus disappointed in our sport at this place, we
went some miles further where another hare was soon started
and the chase began. I was not a little rejoiced to find that
it was not made a point of honor to leap over gates which
could be easily opened, and as my horse was an old fox hunter,
PETER A. JAY
and perfectly accustomed to the sport, I had very little diffi-
culty in keeping up, and where I was obliged to leap over a
hedge or a ditch (the last of which often occurred), he carried
me with more ease than I thought possible. After three or
four hours spent in the course the hare unfortunately crossed
the track of another hare which was hunted by the Duke of
Marlborough's hounds, and after a great many fruitless efforts
to regain the right track, we were obliged to give it up and
Jay had been a guest at the home of Sir Clement, whom
he left, he says, with great regret. His family had shared in
the dangers and exile of Charles II, and were restored to their
possessions at the same time with the King.
The other incident was of a dramatic nature. At the
Drury Lane he had the inestimable privilege of seeing Mrs.
Siddons and Mr. Kemble in the " Merchant of Venice." Mr.
Kemble as Sbylock elicited Jay's admiration, while of Mrs.
Siddons as Portia he writes : " I do not think it in the power
of eloquence to exceed her delivery of the speech in praise of
The purpose of theCommission having been accomplished,
the Jays prepared to return home. Numerous and adverse
were many of the opinions which the treaty evoked when at
a later date it was published. Pellew well says in his life of
Jay, " it is significantly admitted by the latest biographer of
the democratic hero, Andrew Jackson, that Jay's Treaty was
a masterpiece of diplomacy considering the time and the cir-
cumstances of this country." Its accomplishment involved
much labor and anxiety, and as Jay wrote to the Secretary of
FATHER AND SON SAIL FOR HOME
State, " they who have levelled uneven ground know how
little of the work afterwards appears."
The Jays sailed for home on April 12, 1795, in the Severn
from Bristol, and after a voyage during which it rained for
thirty-two consecutive days, they landed in New York on the
28th of May in the presence of a large concourse of the citizens
assembled at the Battery to welcome their new Governor,
whose election, by a great majority, had taken place only two
days before his arrival, and to hail the return of the Envoy to
his country. The crowd attended him to his dwelling amid
the ringing of bells and firing of cannon.
And now all the family were again gathered in the Broad-
way house. Only one death had occurred among the child-
ren Susan, the infant who died at Madrid. The family now
consisted of Peter Augustus; William, born June 16, 1789;
two daughters, Maria and Ann, already mentioned; and Sarah
Louisa, born February 20, 1792. All survived Mr. Jay but
his wife, and the youngest daughter who never married.
The following autumn young Jay went to Philadelphia to
settle the accounts of his father's mission to England. On
the 20th of November, 1795, he set out in the stage-coach,
stopping at Princeton and Trenton on the way. That he
combined pleasure with business and was entertained in a
cordial manner at the Capital, the following brief entries in
his note-book show:
" Sunday 22 not finding Mr. Woolcot, left the letter.
" Monday 23 Saw Mrs. Woolcot. Waited on President
U. S. (John Adams), and dined with him.
" Tuesday 24 Dined Mr. Chew Wednesday 25 dined
PETER A JAY
1797. AGE 21
JOHN JAY AS GOVERNOR
Governor Jay's term expired on the 1st of July, 1801, but
he refused the reelection that was offered him, for he was
making plans, in which he had the assistance of his son Peter,
to seek rest and retirement in the country. A paragraph
written to his wife when about retiring from the position he
was holding well discloses the nature of the man:
" A few years," he writes, " will put us all in the dust and
then it will be of more importance to me to have governed
myself than to have governed a State."
Soon after his return from Europe young Jay commenced
his legal studies in the office of Peter Jay Munro, with whom
he subsequently became associated in business. Munro and
Jay were first cousins. During the absence of the family at
Albany, Jay was in lodgings in Broadway at a Mr. West's,
where occasionally he had the pleasure of meeting his old
friend and his father's former Secretary, Colonel TrumbulL
The city, which had scarcely recovered from the paralysed
condition in which it was left by its recent occupation by the
British and the ravages of fire, was now excited by revolu-
tionary doctrines promulgated among the people. The con-
dition of affairs in Europe, particularly the outbreak of the
French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror, had
created a state of unrest here, inflaming hatred between the
political parties not only of the city and State but throughout
the country. The discussion of this state of things is evi-
dently the occasion of the following correspondence between
Mr. Jay, now twenty-two years of age, and his friend, Mr.
Woodward, a judge of Virginia:
PETER A, JAY
" ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
"March 10, 1798.
" . . . Having but arrived in the last week and the present
being the first moment of which I could avail myself to
acquaint you with my return, I shall be happy if by an early
acquiescence with the proposal of a renovation of our former
and by me never to be forgotten intimacy I shall impart a
conviction of the value which I affix to your friendship.
" Since I had the pleasure of seeing you (1793) I have been
gratified with a second conference both with Mr. Jefferson at
Philadelphia and with General Washington at Mount Vernon.
The former displayed a frankness in his conversation in poli-
tical topics which I did not expect and which was extremely
engaging. I still delight to contemplate him as a man of
virtue, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to
find the same impression still left on your mind. I am afraid,
however, that from real or imaginary causes the esteem which
he once claimed has been much diminished in the heart of
many of his friends in Northern and Eastern States. I am
certain that I observed myself a change there too great to be
accounted for by any causes that are obvious to me. The
uncomfortable prospect is still held out of a want of harmony
in our public councils, an evil, the continuance of which I
" I am not a convert to the opinion that parties are either
necessary or salutary, in our government.
" Where the rights of the people are insecure and prin-
ciples are still doubtful, they may be found advantageous, but
where the fundamental maxims of a government have attained
that stability and apparently general acquiescence which seem
to characterize those of the people of America, what purpose
can the animosities of party answer, but, to inflame the minds
of the people and to weaken the energy of the government.
It was happy for the latter character that such a uniform vene-
ration and confidence was attached to his administration as
ensured the Union and tranquillity of the United States at a
period when they were most precarious, and I shall never
consider them again secure but with the extinction and ab-
sence of that violence of party spirit which has so much and
so long endangered the existence of the government and that
acrimony of contest which has embittered the depositaries of
its authority. I called likewise on Mr. James Madison of
Orange County, who once sustained so conspicuous a charac-
ter in the theatre of American politics. It was not until the
28th of February that I reached my own residence after these
protracted detentions. My first duty has been to apprise you
of my arrival and to claim the favor of as early a communi-
cation from you as more important avocations will permit.
" With sentiments of unalterable regard,
" Your friend and humble serv't,
" E. WOODWARD.
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY, Esq.,
" Broadway, New York."
PETER A. JAY
" NEW YORK, March 20, 1798.
" Dear Sir:
"... Our State Legislature has been and still is exceedingly
occupied, indeed they have passed so many laws that I am
induced to fear they have legislated too much to have legis-
lated well. Though more equally divided with respect to
parties than of late has been usual, their session has been
remarkably peaceable and calm. . . . The late instances of
indecency in Congress are here as they probably are with you,
frequent topics of conversation, and it is generally and greatly
regretted that party spirit, always so violent, should be ren-
dered still more virulent by personal insult that circum-
stances have happened so indecorous in themselves, disres-
pectful to the house, and disreputable to the nation and that
expressions continue to be used which instead of conciliating,
excite irritation, instead of producing unanimity, inflame ani-
mosity. That such behavior should be tolerated and such
divisions exist in such a body and at such a period is, I think,
no evidence that the Age of Reason has arrived. Standing
as we are on the brink of a war, threatened from without, and
convulsed among ourselves, the malignant attacks which are
daily made upon our government by those who are chosen to
be its guardians, are new and unfortunate proofs of the frailty
of the human mind, or, what is still worse, of the corruption
of the human heart.
" But I find I am entering with vehemence into political
disquisition. The ardor of youth is always too apt to seduce
us from more pleasing, but, less illustrious pursuits, and this
is particularly true in the present moment of universal agi-
tation when the shouts of the Parisians, like the blasts of
Alecto's trumpet, have filled all Europe with discord and war,
have even been heard over the ocean and echoed from the
" Your sincere friend,
ct ^ XTrr ,-, " PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" E. WOODWARD, Esq., J
" Rockbridge County, Virginia."
<c ^ r . " NEW YORK, March 28, 1798.
" You are not mistaken when you suppose the character
of Mr. Jefferson has greatly depreciated in this part of the
Union. He is suspected by many of designs inimical to the
independence and happiness of his country and of being the
author and secret conductor of a system which if successful
cannot fail of reducing it to subjection, or at least dependence
on the will of a foreign nation. Of a nation, too, which in
its conduct towards others seems ever carefully to have avoi-
ded all that was generous or friendly, which despises the
obligations of morality and honor, sets at defiance the present
and future opinions of the world and posterity and sacrifices
everything to its insatiable appetite for aggrandizement and
universal domination. What degree of credit these suspi-
cions deserve, or how far they are countenanced by the many
contradictory and mysterious passages which are supposed to
exist in this gentleman's public conduct, I will not pretend to
decide certain it is that they exist and that they have ren-
dered him in a high degree unpopular they are of so criminal
a nature that for the honor of my country I most sincerely
PETER A. JAY
hope they may prove unfounded* The reputation of a nation
like that of a family depends greatly upon the good or ill fame
of the principal persons who compose it, and on this account
also I should rejoice as much as yourself to find every stain
removed from a character which has added so much splendor
to the American name and which, should it be foully tarnis-
hed, would affix to it so great a blot. The period, however,
seems fast arriving when every doubt must be dispelled and
the integrity or depravity of the personage in question forever
established. If in that period he shall oppose the artful yet
open and contemptuous violence of France with as much
decision as he formerly combatted the insidious machination
of Britain; if he shall appear to be guided in his conduct
towards our country by no motives of envy, hatred, or malice,
or towards the other by love, favor, affection, or hope of
reward; if he shall sincerely defend the Constitution he has
sworn to support; if, in fine, he shall prove to be a true and
independent American, all suspicions will be banished and he
will acquire the esteem and confidence of his northern, as you
suppose he already enjoys that of his southern, countrymen.
" This period of which I have spoken must excite in every
bosom anxiety and apprehension. If in the war with France
which seems to be impending, the Democratic party still con-
tinues to oppose every measure of the government to distract
its counsels and to enfeeble its acts, if they still endeavor to
divide the people and to alienate their affections from the
officers they have chosen, in this case our situation will be
lamentable indeed. We may then behold some new Buona-
parte parcelling out the continent into small Republics, ap-
pointing Directors, organizing Insurrections, instituting Re-
volutionary Tribunals, and perhaps giving countenance to
confiscations, proscriptions and massacres. When once we
are separated into independent States, it will be to the interest
of European nations forever to prevent a reunion. To de-
stroy our importance and influence abroad they will probably
employ the same policy towards us which the Persians for-
merly observed with respect to the Greeks, by continually
fermenting internal contentions and wars.
" If, on the contrary, either from the good sense of our
citizens, or their indignation at the injuries they have suffered,
we shall happily unite in defence of our independence, we
shall then, probably, divested of our foreign prejudices and
peculiarities, acquire a national character and a national pride,
acquisitions in my esteem of inestimable value.
" You see I am again running into politics indeed, it is
almost impossible to avoid them when objects most interest-
ing and immense are rapidly passing before our eyes. It is
difficult to withdraw from them our attention and fix it upon
familiar topics. When the weather is fair and the sky serene
we amuse ourselves with observing the flowers that adorn
our path, but when the distant thunder foretells an approach-
ing storm, we can attend to nothing but the course of the
wind, the blackness of the clouds and the nearest place that
can afford shelter . . .
" I am with esteem, your obed. serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" E. WOODWARD, Esq.,
" Rockbridge County, Virginia."
PETER A. JAY
In this condition of affairs it is not surprising to learn that
Jay took out a commission as Ensign of a Company in the
Third Regiment of Militia in the city and county of New-
York, of which Jacob Morton was Lieutenant-Colonel Com-
mandant. The commission bears the date April 11, 1796,
and passed the Secretary's office on April 20. Subsequently
he gained a Captaincy and had in his volunteer company as
first lieutenant, his lifelong friend, Mr. David S. Jones.
Jay was now President of a Literary Society; it apparently
had no particular designation, but it included among its
members such well-known names as William A. Duer, Philip
Church, Gouverneur Ogden, David S. Jones, William Bard,
Beverley Robinson, John Duer, and the first Philip Hamilton.
On the 18th of December, 1797, he was admitted to prac-
tice as an attorney in the Court of Common Pleas for West-
chester County, at White Plains, and on the 19th of August,
1798, he was licensed to practise in the Supreme Court of the
State of New York. In this summer he also received from
Yale the honorary degree of " Master of Arts." The latter
bears the signature of Timothy Dwight, President.
At the outset of his professional career it must have been a
great advantage to this young man to have the advice and
guidance of his distinguished father. In August, 1798, John
Jay writes to him from Albany: " I am so pressed by appli-
cations, etc., that I can hardly find a leisure moment to write
to you. Amoung the reasons which oppose your coming
here soon, the circumstances of the Westchester Court appear
to me to have weight, for whether you take license in the
Mayor's Court a few weeks sooner or later is not very impor-
SUPERINTENDS SURVEY OF LAND
tant. I think it advisable for you to attend the Westchester
Court and therefore to postpone your visit to us until after
that period. But it is my wish and desire that you will pass
as much of the intervening time with your uncle at Rye as
the business of your Mayor's Court license will permit."
In the autumn Jay went to the southern part of the State
to visit a tract of land in Chenango, purchased by his father,
and to superintend its survey. He accompanied the surveyor
in running the lines and slept with him in the woods . Passing
the night in the open air proved much more agreeable than he
had imagined. A clearing was selected for a camp, a shelter
extemporized with crotched supports of hemlock, and a fire
built to last till morning. Wrapped in blankets, with their
feet to the fire, Jay and his companion went to bed on dry,
elastic hemlock boughs, and though one night it had snowed
considerably, they slept warm and comfortably. On his
return home he relates in a letter these experiences to his
Uncle Peter at Rye.
In the summer of 1799 New York was visited by an epi-
demic of yellow fever. Jay remained in the city until Sep-
tember, when he went to Rye and later to Bedford, where the
County Court was then sitting. On September 8, he writes
to his sister Maria at Albany: " It was hoped that the long
continuance of cool weather would have checked the progress
of the fever. But the fact has been exactly the reverse, and
proves how little we yet know concerning the nature and
causes of the disease. Aunt Cortlandt is determined to re-
main here, General Clarkson has removed from his own
house to Mr. Le Roy's. Most of our other friends have
PETER A. JAY
quitted the city of ate preparing to do so. Our situation,
however, is not so distressing as it is probably represented
People are free from that panic which formerly aggravated a
calamity sufficiently dreadful of itself. Business is still car-
ried on in Greenwich Street, whither most of the merchants
have removed their counting houses."
Earlier in the year Jay had obtained his Mayor's Court
license. In March his sister Mark wrote: " We hear from
New York that you have passed a very handsome examina-
tion in the Mayor's Court." This was afterwards known as
the Court of Sessions. Jay kept up his interest in the militia
during this period, having been appointed First Adjutant of
the Sixth Regiment on March 8, 1800.
He was also made Inspector of Brigade of Militia in the
City of New York and County of Richmond by Generaljames
In September, 1800, Jay gives his sister Maria a glimpse of
his life in town at that period. He says : " I have taken up
my law books and laid them down again, copied and recopied
declarations and pleas, and attended the courts that happened
to be sitting, without seeing anything of what is called Com-
pany, unless when I have now and then drank tea at some of
During the residence of the family in Albany, Mark Jay
had made the acquaintance of Goldsborough Banyer. Mr.
Banyer's father bore the same name. He was born in Eng-
land but came in early life to this country, where he ever after
resided. For many years prior to the Revolution he was
Deputy Secretary of the Province, Young Mr. Banyer*s
THE JAY HOME AT BEDFORD
acquaintance with Miss Jay ripened into an attachment, and
before the family left Albany, Maria Jay became Maria Banyer.
The marriage took place on April 22, 1801.
In the meanwhile arrangements were making for building
a home for the family in the country. The site selected for
this purpose was at Bedford, in Westchester County, an es-
tate which the Governor had inherited through his mother,
and which her father, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, had purchased
in 1703 from the Indian Sachem, Katonah.
The plan of the dwelling having been determined, Jay,
visiting Bedford in the early summer of 1801, writes to his
sister, Mrs. Banyer, at Albany, that the frame of the new
building had already been raised. " Building in the country/*
he adds, " proceeds with a far slower pace than in cities. In
the latter materials are purchased on the spot in a state of
preparation and nothing is to be done but to put them to-
gether. In the country the stones are to be broken, the
bricks and the lime to be burnt, the timber to be felled and
hewed and everything to be drawn from a distance. Besides,
workmen are scarce, sensible of their own importance, extor-
tionate and lazy, but the building progresses."
During this visit Jay says he attended church on a Sunday,
when Bob, poor dog, as unaccustomed to the place as his
master, thought it no harm to mount the pulpit and scrape an
acquaintance with the minister, which he did, to the great
discomposure of the countenances of the congregation.
In the following summer the house was sufficiently finished
to admit of its occupancy by the family. Mrs. Jay's health
did not permit her to come until all the work had been finally
PETER A. JAY
completed and the workmen had left the building. She was
now staying with her sister, Mrs. John Livingston, at Oak
Hill on the Hudson, near what is at present known as the
Catskill railroad station. On her arrival at Bedford, she
wrote: " I can truly say I have never enjoyed so much com-
fort as I do here."
The house at Bedford is described as delightfully situated
on a gentle slope backed with high and luxuriant woods; the
surrounding scenery is exceedingly picturesque; particularly
in the west overlooking the Kisco and Croton valleys and the
hills bordering on the Hudson, among which is the bold
Dunderberg. This became the permanent home of the Go-
vernor. Its retirement and seclusion were particularly grate-
ful to him after years of unrest and disquiet. Its distance
from New York fifty miles can now be traversed in one
hour, but it then required two days, and the mail came but
once a week.
In answer to an inquiry from a friend how he could occupy
his mind in such a wilderness, the Governors smiling reply
was, " I have a long life to look back upon and an eternity to
look forward to." This conversation took place after Mr.
Jay had long been a resident at Bedford, and from a guest at
the house we get this record of his visit : " I scarcely remember
to have mingled with any family where there was a more
happy union of quiet decorum and high courtesy, than I met
beneath the roof of Mr. Jay. The venerable statesman him-
self is distinguished as much now for his dignified simplicity
as he was formerly for his political sagacity, integrity and
firmness. During my short stay beneath this hospitable roof
DEATH OF MRS. JOHN JAY
several of the yeomanry came to make a visit of respect, or of
business, to their distinguished neighbor. Their reception
was frank and cordial, each man receiving the hand of the
Governor, as he was called, though it was quite evident that
all approached him with the reverence a great man only can
inspire. For my own part, I confess I thought it a beautiful
sight to see one who had mingled in the council of nations,
who had instructed a foreign minister in his own policy and
who had borne himself with high honor and lasting credit in
the courts of mighty sovereigns, soothing the evening of his
days by these little acts of bland courtesy, which while they
elevated others, in no respect subtracted from his own glory."
The pleasures which Mr. Jay had anticipated from his new
home were denied him. Mrs. Jay's health continued to fail,
and after a short illness she died at the early age of 45, on the
28th of May, 1802. Her remains were taken to New York
and placed in the Jay family vault. We are indebted to her
grandson, the late Mr. John Jay of Bedford, for this tribute to
her memory. Speaking of her character, he says : " However
much of its equanimity was due to the example and influence
of her husband, her letters show that with a singular delicacy
of feeling and sensibility of organization was combined a
strength of mind based upon Christian principle, which ena-
bled her to face danger without fear and to endure hardships
and disappointments without a murmur. Her biography and
correspondence, should they be published, would illustrate in
no slight degree the early days of the Republic and disclose
the temper of the men and women whose virtues secured the
independence of their country and whose characters and ac-
PETER A. JAY
complishments sustained its dignity at home and at the Courts
of Europe. Her memory may be cherished as that of one
who exhibited from her youth amid trial and hardship a stead-
fast devotion to her country; who, amid the gay society of
Paris and New York, preserved unimpaired her gentleness,
amiability and simplicity; and who throughout her life, ful-
filled with Christian fidelity and womanly affection, the duties
of a daughter, sister, wife, and mother."
Before Mrs. Jay's death, two other deaths occurred that
touched this family very closely those of Peter's paternal
uncles Mr. Frederick and Mr. Augustus Jay. Augustus
died on the 23d of December, 1 801 , at the age of 71 . He had
not married. Of his father's family he was the eldest son and
next to the eldest child. Frederick was born April 19, 1747,
and his death occurred in his 53d year, on the 14th of Decem-
ber, 1799, two years earlier than the decease of his brother.
Frederick was twice married, but had no issue. His first wife
was Ann Margaret Barclay, who died in 1791. He subse-
quently married Euphemia Dunscomb, a niece of his brother
Peter's wife (Mary Duyckinck). Frederick Jay was appoin-
ted during the Revolutionary struggle one of the Committee
of Safety for Rye, to serve for one year from May,1776. This
was when Westchester had been threatened with invasion,
and when the county was suffering, as we have already seen,
from the incursion of " the Queen's Rangers," who ravaged
the country without restraint or remorse. Frederick Jay had
already done active service in " the New York Battalion of
Independent Foot Companies," known as " The Corsicans,"
of which Edward Fleming was Captain; Nicholas Roosevelt,
1st Lieut. ; Frederick Jay, 2d Lieut. ; John Berrian, 3d Lieut. ;
and Frederick de Peyster, 4th Lieut. Their uniform consis-
ted of short green coats, and small round hats, with a cock on
one side, a red heart of tin with the words, " God and our
Right," and on a band around the crown, " Liberty or Death."
From 1777 to 1783 he was a member of the Assembly from
New York, and it will be remembered it was at his house at
Poughkeepsie, during the stormy time of the Revolution, that
the family took refuge.
Peter A. Jay was now established in the city in the active
practice of his profession. How long he remained in part-
nership with Mr. Munro is not definitely known, but the Su-
preme Court at Albany had admitted him as " Counsellor at
Law," by license dated October 31, 1800. The license was
signed by John Lansing, Jr., Chief Justice.
On June 15, 1801, he was licensed to practise as Solicitor
in the Court of Chancery of New York State, this license
being signed by Chancellor Robert R. Livingston and Matu-
Jay was rather tall, and slender of person, quick in his
movements, with a face which indicated great refinement, in-
telligence and benevolence, and a manner that was gracious
and engaging. There was something about his appearance
which would always arrest attention.
His health, however, was not vigorous, and the recent
deaths of his mother and uncles had saddened him. Some
relaxation from business seemed to be desirable; he therefore
decided to spend the winter abroad. A letter dated Novem-
ber 4, 1802, bidding farewell to his sister, Mrs. Banyer, shows
PETER A. JAY
the frame of mind he was in before his departure: " The
doctors state that this measure is expedient but not necessary,
and flatter me that I shall regain my former health; whether
this is more than flattery time will show. When I give the
reins to my imagination she sometimes sketches but a gloomy
prospect. I see myself about to leave, perhaps never to revi-
sit, all whom I love, respect, esteem, or care for in the world,
to go to a land of strangers, where every face will be un-
known, and every sound unintelligible where I may lan-
guish unheeded and unpitied; and perhaps die unregarded
and unlamented, with not a friend to close my eyes. To drive
away these dreary and unprofitable reflections I reverse the
medal and view myself in the most luxuriant and laughing
country of Europe, where the fertility of the soil emulates the
benignity of the air; where the labors of Art rival the produc-
tion of Nature; where I tread on classic ground and where
every steep brings to my remembrance some poet, philosopher
or hero. I think of the joy with which I shall return to my
native shore, and the transports I shall feel when again em-
bracing my father and my beloved sisters. But it is my duty
to check as well the wild exuberances of hope as the gloomy
extravagancies of frightened fancy. It is my part to acquiesce
without a murmur in the dispensations of Him in whose hand
are my days, and who in this world seldom dispenses either
evil or good without a mixture. Resigning myself to His
Providence and imploring His protection, I endeavor to pre-
serve an equal, cheerful mind, neither vainly and presump-
tuously elated with hope; nor depressed by melancholy fore-
bodings or desponding thoughts."
EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY
From a diary which Mr. Jay kept we have the following
account of his trip abroad, which lasted about nine months :
" Oct. 1802. Towards the end of this month, on account
of a pulmonary complaint under which I had long labored,
Drs. Charlton and Tillary advised me to avoid an American
winter and to pass that season in some milder climate. They
recommended the South of Europe, Madeira, Bermuda, or
New Providence. I preferred the first but was unable to
obtain a passage on board any vessel that pleased me till the
end of the next month, when I engaged one in the four-
masted ship U Invention, Peter Tardiff, master, for Leghorn.
Messrs. Murray & Son supplied me with a credit on Mr.
Sansom of London and Messrs. Philip & Anthony Felicchi
& Co. of Leghorn, and Mr. John R. Murray, who had just
returned from a tour of Europe, which he had performed
with singular taste and judgment, gave me a few letters of in-
troduction to Genoa, Leghorn and Lyons. I received like-
wise introductory letters from Mr. Seton, Mr. de Lancey and
Mr. Abraham Ogden. Dr. Valentine Seaman of New York
and Mr. Thompson, a Scotchman, were fellow-passengers
with me. The former was going like myself for the benefit
of his health. We embarked on the 27th of November, got
under way at noon and in about two hours were at sea and
discharged the pilot.
" The ship in which we sailed was built by the French for
a privateer, and carried 28 guns, but was taken by the British
during her first cruise. She was about 500 tons burden and
remarkably long and sharp with the wind on the quarter we
sailed with great rapidity. On our passage we outstripped
PETER A. JAY
every vessel we saw standing the same course. The additional
mast was called by the French the intermediate mast and by the
English the after main mast. Sailing with a N.W. wind, our
captain determined to take advantage of it to get clear of the
land, and accordingly stood to the S. E. for about 300 miles
until the 1st of December. The wind then changing com-
pelled us much against our inclinations to run to the N. E.
and we crossed the Banks of Newfoundland a week after in
Lat. 44 deg. We then supposed that we should of necessity
make a northern passage, but a second change of wind carried
us southeasterly through the midst of the Azores to Lat. 32
deg. Of these islands we saw on the 14th and 15th Fyal,
Corvo, and Pico. The last seemed to rise from the sea in
form of a sugar loaf and hide its head in the clouds. We saw
it high above the horizon at the distance of 50 miles. In
these low latitudes we were becalmed for several days, till at
length a more favorable breeze springing up, we succeeded
in making Cape St. Vincent on the morning of the 27th of
" This Cape, which is the S.W. point of Portugal, is a high,
steep and rocky promontory jutting out into the sea. On
the sea. On the top and apparently on the brink of the preci-
pices is a large monastery, the white walls of which together
with the rude scenery round them and the surf breaking im-
petuously at the foot of the rock form a prospect extremely
picturesque. From hence may be seen, on one side, the
Kingdom of Portugal for many a mile offering to the eye
towns, villages and cultivated fields, and on the other the
boundless ocean, spotted with sails which from every quarter
EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY
are approaching the Mediterranean. A situation from which
such a view can be beheld, while the constant roar of billows
is heard immediately beneath, seems peculiarly adapted to re-
ligious retirement and to inspire ideas the most devout and
" While we coasted along this shore the wind increased and
blew a strong gale. We stood for Cape Spartel on the Afri-
can side and when night came on reduced our sails and ran
under our mizzen and topsails, and yet with only these sails
the ship went 9 knots an hour.
" Dec. 28th. In the evening we found ourselves in sight
of Cape Spartel on one side and Cape Trafalgar on the other.
The Moorish coast was obscured by a haze we, however,
discerned (though very dimly) the bay and city of Tangiers.
On the European side we passed rapidly along a shore rough
and barren, and on approaching it nearer saw several small
villages, flocks of sheep and droves of cattle and horses . The
largest town in sight was Tarifa, which we approached near
enough to distinguish with the naked eye friars in their habits
walking on the beach and inhabitants sunning themselves
under the walls of the town.
" The wind continuing favorable, we entered the bay of
Gibraltar about noon. I had a great desire to see this for-
tress and had letters from Mr. de Lancey to Consuls Simpson
and Matra. The Captain had promised if the weather per-
mitted to anchor here, since by obtaining at this place a clean
bill of health his quarantine might have been shortened at
Leghorn; but the wind was so favorable for the prosecution
of our voyage that he was exceedingly unwilling to lose it and
PETER A. JAY
therefore determined merely to land his letters and proceed.
As we stood into the bay we perceived the boat of an Ame-
rican man-of-war and made a signal for it to approach. We
found it belonged to the frigate Constellation, then lying in the
bay waiting only for a wind to return to America. We deli-
vered to the officers the letters we had prepared to our friends
at home as well as those which were to go ashore and then
continued our course.
" Leaving Gibraltar, we passed along the Spanish shore >
which continued to be high but somewhat less barren; we
could see hedges which we supposed were made of aloes, and
now and then villages. A slight haze which hung over the
hills softened their tints and gave them an appearance almost
like velvet. Some of the views were beautiful. The surface
of the sea here was very unlike that we had lately witnessed
in the Atlantic. It was so smooth that we could scarcely
discern any motion in the wine in the decanters which stood
on the cabin table.
" Dec. 29th. The next day the wind which had seduced
us from Gibraltar failed, and light baffling airs which succee-
ded detained us a couple of days between Cape Gata and
Palos. During this interval we saw the snow-capped moun-
tains of Granada, which though very distant appeared of an
" Jan. 1st, 1803. On New Year's Day we made Majorca
and the little Isle of Cabrera which lies near it, and two days
after we saw Corsica. Our cruise was now again obstructed
by calms and contrary winds and we were obliged to stand
over to the French shore, which we made near Cape Taillar.
EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY
The coast here, as in every part of the Mediterranean which I
have yet seen, was mountainous and great quantities of snow
covered the high grounds.
" On the 5th in the afternoon we passed Capraja and Gor-
gona and came in sight of Mount Nero, which lies near Leg-
horn, and in the evening were within a few miles of the har-
bor, but the Captain, apprehensive of entering in the night
without a pilot, waited for morning to run into the mole.
Unfortunately the morning brought with it a wind directly
ahead and even that died away before we could beat in; so
that we had the mortification of being all that and most of the
following day in full view of our port without being able to
" Jan. 7th. This whole day was employed in beating into
the harbor. We passed close under Point Nero, near which
stands a chapel dedicated to the Virgin and much venerated
by the pious Catholics. We were amused by a number of
small vessels rigged in a manner quite new to those unac-
quainted with this sea, and by three Spanish men of war (one
of 120 guns) which had just arrived from Carthagena and had
on board the Prince of Asturias and his family, who landed
with great parade about noon. The ships were finally dres-
sed in the colors of different nations and when the Prince
landed a salute was fired. About 4 P.M. we gained the harbor
and were running into the mole when an officer of the Pratick
House (Health Officer) came off and ordered us to anchor in
the road till we had permission from the Governor to go
within the mole. The Captain, vexed at this order and sus-
pecting it was a scheme to extort money, ordered the mate to
PETER A. JAY
lay the ship to and went ashore in the boat with his bill of
health and soon after returned with permission to enter. It
being then late and the wind failing, ten men in a boat came
off and offered to tow us in. Their offer was accepted and
we reached our station at dusk. As vessels from the United
States since the appearance there of the yellow fever are obli-
ged to ride quarantine, a guard belonging to the Pratick
House accompanied the Captain when he returned from the
shore and another was sent on board soon after we had
reached the mole.
" Thus ended our voyage, which had been far more plea-
sant than the advanced season had given us reason to expect.
From the time we sailed to the present I did not find it neces-
sary to wear a great coat on deck during more than three
days. The Captain and both the mates were skilful in their
profession and showed me every attention. Ihavereasontobe
perfectly pleased with them. I was seasick for three days only.
Dr. Seaman suffered much he was sick near three weeks.
" Jan. 8th. This morning a boat belonging to the Pratick
House came alongside, and a physician who was in it inquired
into the health of the crew; the nature of the cargo, etc. All
on board were then ordered to show themselves at the ship's
side that it might appear whether their number corresponded
with our bill of health; and afterwards to beat our breasts
with our right hands to ascertain, I presume, that we were
alive. Several acquaintances of the Captain came alongside
and informed us that our quarantine would be 14 days, but
that on the petition of the consignees it would probably be
reduced to 12.
EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY
" Jan, 9th. This day being Sunday, we had an opportu-
nity of seeing the different flags displayed by the vessels in the
mole. The Danes, Ragusans and British appeared the most
numerous. There were also several Greeks and Turks and
6 or 7 Americans.
"Jan. 10th. This day a circumstance hapijened which ser-
ves to show the disposition of the Italians for extortion. I
have mentioned that a boat with ten men assisted us in getting
into the mole. This service was performed in an hour and a
half or at most two hours and they demanded for it 8 x / 2 se-
quins (about 18 dollars), which the Captain refused to pay.
This day a settlement took place; the boatmen fell to 4 x / 2
sequins, which being also refused they at length accepted two
and an half in full for their trouble.
" Jan. 15th. We learn that a royal order has been issued
compelling all ships from the United States to perform 20
days quarantine instead of 14 as heretofore. Though the
King's order with respect to us is ex post facto we find to our
vexation that we shall be obliged to obey it.
"Jan. 27th. We at length obtained our release. The
Pratick House boat came alongside and the officer having
again counted our numbers and ordered us to beat our breasts
as at his first visit told us we had Pratick. We went imme-
diately ashore, and having presented ourselves at the Pratick
House received permission to enter the city, where we took
lodgings at the Albergo Reale, which we found an exceeding
The remaining days of the month were spent seeing the
sights of Leghorn, and Mr. Jay had here his first experience
PETER A. JAY
of Italian Opera. He writes : " In the evening I went to the
Opera with Mrs. Felicchi. Understanding neither the lan-
guage nor the music I was but little entertained. The Opera
house is spacious and pretty. There are five rows of boxes
above each other. These are totally separate and form little
rooms even the front can be closed by means of a curtain.
They are private property and in the best situations are worth
$ 3000. In these boxes they converse, play cards or chess,
pay and receive visits ; in short, do anything but attend to the
" Jan. 31. Mr. Felicchi, having informed us that he inten-
ded going to Florence to-morrow, invited us to be of the
party. We determined not to neglect the opportunity. Dr.
Seaman and myself purchased a carriage for 80 sequins and
we prepared for our journey.
" Feb. 1 . We set out at 8 o'clock A.M. and arrived at
Florence (64 miles) at half-past 8 in the evening. Mr. Felic-
chi, Mr. Bayley, Mr. Amoxy, of Boston, and Signor Bara-
gazzi, an advocate of Leghorn, accompanied us."
A week was spent at Florence. From that city Mr. Jay
writes : " IJhave found here as much magnificence as I expec-
ted to find even at Rome. There are at least ten palaces in
Florence better built and embellished than St. James's at
London." Of the Uffizi he remarks: " The famous gallery
did not surpass my expectations, especially as the best pieces
both of painting and sculpture have been sent to Palermo to
save them from the French," nor did he see the collection
formerly at the Palazzo Pitti, since it had been ransacked by
Napoleon and the paintings taken to Paris. The following
SETS OUT FOR ROME
item proves that the shops of Florence were no less enticing
one hundred years ago than at present " The Brothers Pisani
have here a grand manufactory of alabaster vases, etc. I
purchased a few for my sisters."
" Feb. 5. Our friends left Dr. Seaman and myself. We
parted with great regret from Mr. Felicchi and Mr. Bayley,
who had been unwearied in their attentions to please us. Our
fellow passenger, Mr. Thompson, also returned to Leghorn
and his absence gave us much less pain."
As the weather at this time was very cold, Mr. Jay and Dr.
Seaman determined to go to Rome, and on Feb. 9th set out,
in a carriage drawn by a team of mules, on what proved to be
a rough and tedious journey. They had travelled only twenty
miles when the road became so obstructed with snow that
they were compelled to return to the village of Tavernelle,
where the night was passed in a miserable inn.
"Feb. 10th. We were detained all day at Tavernelle.
Two couriers, being in like manner detained, applied to the
Commandant of the place, who ordered the inhabitants to
open the road. They went out for that purpose, but soon
returned, saying it was too cold to work. Indeed, for this
climate the weather was very severe. The snow did not melt
even at noonday on the roofs most exposed to the sun. We
endeavored in vain to persuade the people to break the road,
as in America, with horses and oxen they had no idea of
opening it except by shovelling the snow out of it."
The following day they were finally able to proceed and
arrived at Sienna late in the evening. After leaving Sienna
the roads became very rough, which made travelling difficult
PETER A. JAY
and slow. Near Ponte Centino they had to ford the river
Rigo six times in the course of a mile to reach the house
where they were to sleep. At Lake Bolsena they were inter-
rupted by a squad of the Pope's cavalry " who endeavored to
persuade us to hire an escort to Montefiascone to protest us
from the Banditti, who they said infested the road and had
lately robbed the Florence Courier. But, as they themselves
had more the appearance of Banditti than soldiers, we decli-
ned the honor of their Company."
After spending a week at Rome, they were obliged to go
further south on account of the continued cold. Just before
leaving, Mr. Jay made this entry: " I was near being killed
here by the fumes of charcoal in a brassero"
The journey to Naples was made by the post route. At
Portella, the entrance to the Kingdom of Naples, Mr. Jay's
servant was arrested for having no passport, and as argu-
ments and persuasion availed not, he had to be left behind
at Terracina. The servant, who was called " Bill," proved
more than a match for the Neapolitan guards, for on March
2d Mr. Jay writes : " My servant who was sent back to Ter-
racina fortunately found there a felucca bound to Naples, and
going on board, arrived at this place the day after we did."
Two weeks were spent at Naples, from which base the two
travellers visited nearly all the surrounding places of interest,
including Pompeii and the crater of Vesuvius.
On these excursions Mr. Woolaston, an English gentleman
whom they had met on the way, generally accompanied
At Naples Mr. Jay had an opportunity to attend court and
FURTHER TRAVELS IN ITALY
observe the Italian methods of judicial procedure. He re-
marked that the corps of advocates amounted to 8,000, and
the notaries, clerks, scriveners and other retainers of the law,
to nearly 12,000 more, a proof, perhaps, that the laws were
not the best possible. He also saw something of Neapolitan
society, having been a guest at a magnificent ball given by
Madame Falconet, formerly Miss Hunter of Boston.
By the middle of March, the weather becoming warmer,
Mr. Jay and his friend decided to return to Rome. Eight
days were spent in sight-seeing, including an excursion to
Tivoli. Mr. Jay speaks of Rome as " this superb Metropolis,
superb even amidst its present misery and desolation." St.
Peter's seemed to impress him most of all.
Beginning their journey northward, they drove from Rome
to Florence, by way of Perugia. Being anxious to get letters
from America awaiting them at Leghorn, they passed through
Lucca and Pisa. As the road from Leghorn to Genoa was
impassable for carriages, they resolved to go thither in an
English brig which was to sail in a few days. Reports of a
war between England and France, however, prevented her
departure, so they finally hired the cabin of a felucca and
made the voyage in twenty-two hours. Mr. Jay writes from
Genoa: " The passage would have been agreeable but for the
extreme nastiness of the boat, which swarmed with vermin.
These feluccas are open boats which carry merchandise from
place to place along the coast and sail or are rowed as occasion
requires. On the approach of rough weather they instantly
run for the shore. They have commonly two latteen sails
and ten oars. The master is called Padrone. That which
PETER A. JAY
they call the cabin is a place abaft the mainmast covered with
a small awning/'
Leaving Genoa, Dr. Seaman and Mr. Jay engaged a carriage
to cross the Apennines by the Bochetta Pass. The road was
wild and infested with robbers, but the travellers got through
safe to Turin. Mr. Jay writes that Turin is without excep-
tion the most beautiful city he has seen. About the middle
of April he left for Lyons, and on this stage Mr. Jay had his
first experience of the Alps. He crossed Mont Cenis on mule-
back, at a height of 6,260 feet, in a violent wind-storm, and
the ground covered with snow. The journey from Lyons
to Paris, a distance of about 354 miles, was made in four days
and a half over excellent roads.
At Paris, Mr. Jay took lodgings in the Rue Vivienne, Dr.
Seaman going on to London. Mr. Jay met a number of
friends here, among them Mr. and Mrs. Higginson and Dr.
Bruce, with whom he made many excursions about the city
in the course of the following five weeks.
" The palaces in Paris," Mr. Jay remarks, " are magnificent
but of much inferior architecture to those of Rome and Flor-
ence. The Tuileries are inhabited by the French Consul; the
Luxembourg is now the palace of the Senate, the Legislative
Body occupy the Palais Bourbon, and the Tribunate hold
their sittings in the Palais Royal. Notre Dame, the cathe-
dral, is a large and ancient Gothic church, but not to be com-
pared with the Duomo at Florence or to the Minster at York,
or the Cathedral at Wells." At this time the population of
Paris was 600,000. " The streets," he says, " are not well
paved nor are they very clean, and having no sidewalks are
PARIS AND VERSAILLES
inconvenient for foot passengers." He greatly admired the
boulevards on which formerly stood the ramparts of the city;
also " a wood called the Elysian fields/' as well as the Bois de
Boulogne, " a wood which was cut down during the Revolu-
tion but which has been again planted." Of the people he
writes : " The manners of the Parisians have returned to what
they were under the old regme; and those of the Revolution,
and even the Revolutionary language, are entirely out of
fashion. A new aristocracy, that of wealth, has replaced the
old nobility and perhaps the change is not much for the
better." Theatres are numerous in every part of the city,
and are always full. Mr. Jay remarks : " The performers in
Tragedy appear to me mere ranters. The dancing at the
opera is extremely fine, though I think that both the Italian
and French in their dancing, and the former also in their
music, aim much more at executing what is difficult than what
is graceful." In speaking of Versailles, Mr. Jay says: " The
palace fell far short of my expectations. It contains, howe-
ver, some good pictures and a great many of inferior merit.
The masterpieces both of painting and sculpture have been
sent to Paris and St. Cloud. The latter is now the favorite
residence of Bonaparte, and immense sums have been expen-
ded to furnish and embellish it."
During the month of May Mr. Robert R. Livingston and
Mr. Munro, Ministers of the United States, signed a treaty
with the French Government by which France ceded Loui-
siana to the United States, a territory nearly equal to the area
of the thirteen original States an event recently commemo-
rated at St. Louis. Mr. Jay was desired by the Ministers to
PETER A. JAY
take with him on his return to America the ratified treaty and
an order from the First Consul for the delivery of the Terri-
tory. Accordingly he left for Havre on June 9th, where he
engaged passage for New York on the ship Oliver Ellsworth.
On the way down the Channel Capt. Brenton, of the British
frigate La Minerve y having heard that Mr. Jay was the bearer
of despatches, stopped the Oliver Ellsworth and summoned
him aboard. Mr. Jay promptly showed the Captain a certi-
ficate with which he had been furnished by the American
Ministers; whereupon Capt. Brenton made profuse apolo-
gies, saying that he had supposed the despatches were from
the French Government, and sent Mr. Jay back to his ship.
A stop of two days was made at La Rochelle to take on a
cargo of brandy. This gave Mr. Jay an opportunity to visit
the birthplace of his forefathers. Mons. Pierre Borde, Vice-
Commercial Agent of the United States, informed him that a
respectable Huguenot family of the name of Jay, various
members of which had once held offices under the govern-
ment and had afterwards fled on account of their religion,
was still remembered there. " He told me further," says Mr.
Jay, " thar about twenty years ago he had known a Mr. Jay
who was a member of the Parliament of Paris, and was of a
Rochelle family, but he was ignorant what had become of
him during the Revolution."
Mr. Jay continues " La Rochelle is a melancholy place.
Everything testifies decline and poverty. The port contains
not a single vessel which is receiving or discharging a cargo.
Not a gentleman's carriage is to be seen in the city and the
grass grows in the midst of the streets. This place formerly
contained upwards of 60,000 souls; the population has now
dwindled to 17,000. Fifty years ago its commerce equalled
or exceeded that of Bordeaux; at present it does not employ
six vessels. This declension is owing in part to the loss of
the fur trade which centred here before the conquest of Ca-
nada by the British; partly to the destruction of their African
commerce, which was destroyed during the last war; and
partly by the Revolution, which ruined the men of property
and capitalists; but more than all to the superior advantages
of situation enjoyed by Bordeaux, which is seated on one of
the finest rivers of France, while all inland trade with Rochelle
must be carried on only by land. The port is very small but
perfectly secure. It resembles more a large dock than a har-
bor. The city had formerly been surrounded by an oldfas-
hioned stone wall, strengthened with round towers, part of
which is still standing. New and exceeding strong fortifica-
tions on the modern style have since been erected. The
streets are tolerably wide, and straight, the houses of stone
and old-fashioned. In most streets the second story projects
over the first and is supported by pillars, forming a convenient
footwalk. There is a large square and a public walk on the
After considerable delay they sailed from La Rochelle on
July 10th. Again the Oliver Ellsworth was boarded from no
less than four British frigates, but as in the first instance Mr.
Jay was allowed to proceed, with apologies. His arrival in
New York with the treaty on August 18, 1803, was announ-
ced in the papers the following day. In his passport from
Havre Mr. Jay is described as "27 years old, oval face, aquiline
PETER A. JAY
nose, blue eyes, chestnut hair, 5 ft. 10 in. high, accompanied
by his valet, William Kendall."
During the next few months his assiduity always a dist-
inguishing trait of his character found him again among his
law books and as intent as ever in building up the character
which in time gave him such an enviable position in his pro-
fession. It was no little distinction for him to learn that
when Chancellor Kent was solicited to appoint some one to
make a valuation and report in a case of magnitude and
nicety, " let it be referred," said the Chancellor, to Mr. Jay:
" if there ever was an honest man, it is Peter A. Jay."
It was at Dr. Charlton's suggestion that Mr. Jay the fol-
lowing autumn again made arrangements to seek a more
genial climate. He secured from De Witt Clinton, the Mayor,
a passport for himself and his servant, William Kendall, to
visit foreign countries. He decided to go to Bermuda and
make his residence at St. Georges. On Dec. 16, 1803, he
sailed on the sloop Blackbird. Dr. Territt, lately appointed
Judge of the Vice Admiralty Court at Bermuda, was a fellow
passenger. Mr. Jay writes: "I found him a learned and
agreeable man. His baggage and the sloop's provisions so
filled the cabin that we were unable even to sit upright in it.
On the 17th, 18th and 19th it blew a storm and we alternately
lay to and scudded before it, sometimes under bare poles.
The rest of the voyage was uncommonly disagreeable, on
account of the rough and wet weather which confined us to
the cabin, filled, as I have described it. The dead lights were
put in before we sailed and never taken out, and the skylight
having no glass in it was obliged to be covered whenever it
SAILS FOR BERMUDA
rained. I suffered much from sea-sickness. On making the
land we very nearly escaped running on the rocks called the
On his arrival at St. Georges Mr. Jay presented the letters
of introduction given him by Mr. Barclay, the British Consul
General at New York. These procured him great attention
and hospitality, especially from Mr. Tucker, the President of
the Council and, in the absence of the Governor, Commander-
in-Chief. But it was, as he writes to his sister Mrs. Banyer,
a gloomy and uncomfortable season. " Instead of a land of
perpetual spring as I had hoped to find it, it proved to be
during most of the time I spent there a region of continued
storm and rain. As for public diversions there are none of
any kind except that sometimes they amuse themselves with
running horses or with boat racing, in the last of which they
excel their vessels being as good as their horses are bad.
If the Bermudians," he concludes, " were as fond of flowers
as you are, they might have very beautiful gardens with little
On the 9th of May, 1804, Mr. Jay writes in his Journal:
" Being anxious to leave this place, where I have passed some
very disagreeable months, I engaged a passage in the sloop
Cedar Tree, Captain Penniston, for Philadelphia." And on
May 23d, " we succeeded in getting to sea and I bade adieu to
Bermuda without regret. The inhabitants were hospitable
and showed me a very great degree of attention, but disa-
greeable weather, absence from friends, inactivity and ex-
ceeding bad health concurred to make my time pass heavily
and gloomily away." He arrived home at Bedford on June
PETER A. JAY
12th. In the autumn he received the following letter from
" ST. GEORGES, BERMUDA,
" Nov. 10th, 1804.
" Dear Sir:
" My servant has preserved for you some seeds of that blue
flower you were so partial to when you visited this Island,
and he begs me to mention in my letter that he is in want of
many seeds, particularly cantaloupe, melons, cucumbers, hor-
se-radish and celery.
" If you will deign to visit us again this Winter I shall be
able to receive you in a better manner than when you were
here before; but, though I should be particularly happy to see
you, I hope that ill health will not be the cause of our meeting;
I have too much reason at the same time to fear that nothing
but the apprehension of suffering from the cold at New York
can induce you to return to this dreary and uncomfortable
spot. . . . Begging to be particularly remembered to Judges
Benson and Kent, to Mr. King, Mr. G. Morris and Col.
Barclay when you see them, I am, dear Sir,
- " Most sincerely and truly yours,
" W. TERRITT."
Mr. Jay remained at Bedford for the next two years, being
still in poor health. He could not be tempted to go to Ber-
muda again; though always retaining very grateful memories
of the kindnesses which he had received during his visit. As
we see by the following letter, he evidently took pleasure in
introducing to his friend Mr. Tucker, a resident of Bermuda,
INTERCEDES FOR OGDEN HOFFMAN
young Hoffman. Hoffman, then a midshipman serving on
board the President, Commodore Decatur, which was captu-
red on January 16, 1815, off Long Island, during what is com-
monly known as the Second War of Independence, in after
years became a prominent member of the New York Bar.
" NEW YORK, January 28, 1815.
" I know both by observation and experience that to afford
you an opportunity to be hospitable is to give you pleasure,
and I shall therefore without any apology beg you to show
such civilities as may be proper to Mr. Ogden Hoffman, a
midshipman lately captured on board the President frigate and
now on his way to your Island as a prisoner. He is a young
gentleman of family and education, son to the Recorder of
this city, and I trust worthy of the attention he may receive.
" Be assured, sir, I have not forgotten the kindness I ex-
perienced from almost every gentleman of your name when,
many years ago, I visited Bermuda in search of health.
Should there be any of them who still remember me, be
pleased to make to them my respects and believe me, sir,
" Your very obed. serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" DAN'L TUCKER, Esq.,
The years spent at Bedford, the quiet of the country, and
relaxation from business cares finally completely restored him
PETER A. JAY
On June 6, 1806, Mr. Goldsborough Banyer died in the
thirty-first year of his age. It will be remembered that he
had married Maria, Peter's sister, who was now left with two
young children, a son and daughter. The loss of her hus-
band was followed in a few months by that of her son, and
three years later her daughter died.
At the age of thirty-one, Mr. Jay became engaged to Mary
Rutherfurd Qarkson, his second cousin. Mary was a daugh-
ter of General Matthew Qarkson and an only child by his
first wife, Mary Rutherfurd. Her Qarkson ancestors had
long been settled in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.
The Rev. David Qarkson, the immediate descendant of this
family and born in Yorkshire, was a graduate of Trinity Col-
lege, Cambridge, and subsequently made London his resi-
dence. He took a prominent part in the religious contro-
versies of the time and was as much esteemed for his " godly
upright life " as for his great scholarship. He was the father
of Matthew Qarkson who came with his half-brother, or
stepbrother, Charles Lodwick, to Boston in 1685, but went
back to England soon after his father's death, and who, on
his later visit to America, came with the Royal Commission
of Secretary of the Province of New York. This Matthew
was the great-great-grandfather of Mary Qarkson.
Mary's mother was a woman of great beauty, and of amia-
bility of temper which made her exceedingly popular. She
was the only daughter of Walter Rutherfurd and Catherine
Alexander. Mary's uncle, her mother's brother, was an only
son and was a Senator of the United States from New Jersey
during the administration of General Washington. Her
PETER A JAY
In the possession of Mr John Ja> Pierrepont
grandfather, Walter Rutherford, had entered the British ser-
vice at an early age and served in Flanders as a Lieutenant in
the Royal Scots, and in 1760, under Sir Jeffrey Amherst, com-
manded the Grenadiers at the invasion of Canada. On the
termination of the French and Indian War he retired from the
army and resided in New York and New Jersey. The
Rutherfurds have always been classed amongst the most an-
cient and powerful families in Teviotdale, Scotland. The
marriage was preceded by the following correspondence:
" BEDFORD, July 3, 1807.
" Dear Sir:
" My respect for your family and my constant esteem for
your parents and yourself render the connection, which I
understand, is about to take place between two of our chil-
dren, perfectly agreeable to me. The reason there is to be-
lieve that their mutual affection will be protected and secured
by mutual esteem, affords me particular satisfaction.
" My son is not a little gratified by the manner in which
your approbation was given, and I flatter myself he will omit
no opportunities of evincing the sense he entertains of it.
" With the most sincere wishes for your and their prospe-
rity, I am, dear sir,
" Your obedient servant,
" JOHN JAY.
" General MATTHEW CLARKSON."
PETER A. JAY
This letter elicited the following reply:
"NEW YORK, July 9, 1807.
" I should sooner have expressed to you my thanks for the
favor of your letter of the 3d inst. and the civilities contained
in it, had not my knowledge of your son's intention of re-
turning to Bedford induced me to postpone it until now.
The intended connection between two of our children, in
every point of view, gives me very great pleasure, and this is
much increased by the satisfaction you express on the subject.
The real esteem I bear your son for his great worth, and the
warm affection I feel for the best of daughters, assure me
that their mutual affection is not misplaced, but that they are,
in every respect, deserving of each other.
" Their marriage, which I understand will soon take place,
I sincerely hope it will be convenient for you and your family
" With every sentiment of esteem and respect, I am, dear
" Your obedient servant,
" M. CLARKSON.
"Hon. JOHN JAY."
The wedding took place on July 29 at the Clarkson house,
on the southeast corner of Whitehall and Pearl streets. The
company assembled on Wednesday evening, in the drawing-
room on the north side of the house, its three windows look-
ing out upon Pearl Street. The ceremony was performed by
MARRIAGE AND WEDDING TRIP
Doctor Moore, Bishop of the diocese. Among the guests
were Governor Jay, the Rutherfurds, Bayards, Leroys, Van
Homes, Munros, Wallaces, and Miss Anne Brown. The
bride wore white silk covered with white gauze, and her or-
naments were pearls. She was attended by six bridesmaids,
in white muslin Empire gowns : the Misses Ann Jay, Helen
Rutherfurd, Anna Maria Clarkson, Susan and Catherine Ba-
yard and Cornelia Leroy. The groomsmen were Robert
Watts, Jr., John Cox Morris, Dominick Lynch, George Wick-
ham, Benjamin Ledyard and B. Woolsey Rogers. On the
following day Mr. and Mrs. Jay visited the latter's uncle, the
Hon. John Rutherfurd of Edgerston, on the Passaic, a little
above Belleville, where the bridal party were entertained at a
breakfast. Mr. Jay received his friends in the mornings of
the succeeding Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while
Mrs. Jay's receptions were in the evenings of Thursday, Fri-
day and Saturday. Soon afterwards they went on their wed-
ding trip, visiting among other places Ballston Spa, near
In a letter to Mrs. Banyer, written in 1807, Mrs. Jay says,
" In the summer we expect to move into Vesey St. next to
Uncle Rutherford's." The house was immediately in the
rear of Mr. Rutherford's, which stood on the northwest cor-
ner of Broadway and Vesey Street. No. 2 Vesey Street was
an inheritance from Mrs. Jay's mother.
Housekeeping and attendance at " Vendue's," for the pur-
chase of suitable articles, form the subject of many of the
letters to Bedford.
This summer Mr. Jay's brother William was graduated
PETER A. JAY
from Yale with the class of 1807, and began the study of law
Owing to improvements making in the city of New York
in 1807 and the opening of new streets, the Jays were obliged
to abandon the use of their former vault for burial, which
was somewhere near the site of the present St. Mark's Church,
described in old papers as " at Mr. Stuyvesant's." The re-
mains of several of the earlier members of the family were
taken to Rye for sepulture in a new vault built on the Jay estate.
On September 11, 1808, a son was born to Mr. and Mrs.
Jay, and named John Clarkson. Shortly after his bkth Mrs.
Jay writes to her husband, who is visiting at Bedford: " This
winter we shall receive an additional source of delight from
our dear little boy. He grows every day, and is and has been
perfectly well since you left us. His eyes are still blue; in-
deed I am almost confident he will be like his father, which
will, if possible, endear him still more to me. Aunt Van
Home thinks John has grown since she last saw him, and
says he is an uncommonly fine child, though I hear that from
every one, and all think him like you except Mrs. Cortlandt,
who says he is the picture of what William was."
Mr. Jay now commenced to take part in the benevolent,
educational, political and religious activities of his commu-
nity, a part which, whether as director or co-worker in the
ranks, not only left the impress of his sturdy character upon
the men of his own generation, but permanently links his
name with the growth and upbuilding of many of the institu-
tions of New York, both public and private.
Although at this time he was not a permanent resident at
HIS VARIED ACTIVITIES
Rye, the records show that as early as April, 1802, he was one
of the wardens of Christ Church in that village. In 1809 he
was made Governor of the New York Hospital. In 1810 he
was a Trustee of the New York Society Library (founded in
1754), and in the same year we read of him as being Treasurer
of the Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of
Clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of
New York. The following year he became a vestryman of
Trinity Church, with which his father, grandfather and great-
grandfather had also been officially connected. From 1812
to 1817 he was Trustee of Columbia College. In most of
these various offices he continued to serve continuously or at
intervals, during the remainder of his life.
It was in the year 1811 that the famous " Trinity Church
Riot " took place; Mr. Jay was retained as one of the counsel
for the defendants. The Commencement exercises of Co-
lumbia College were being held in Trinity Church before a
crowded audience. One of the graduating class, named Ste-
venson, a disputant in a political debate, was refused his
degree for saying " Representatives ought to act according to
the sentiments of their constituents." It seems that students
were required to submit their orations before delivery to the
faculty for approval. In this case Dr. Wilson of the faculty
disapproved of the above sentence and warned Stevenson to
modify it. When the time came the latter delivered it as
originally written. Later, when the President was about to
hand him his degree, the faculty protested and the degree was
withheld from him. Immediately there was an uproar; sev-
eral of the alumni jumped up on the stage and made speeches
PETER A. JAY
condemning the faculty. The audience becoming excited,
the police were called in and the Commencement ended in
great disorder. But the matter did not end there. After
considerable agitation in the newspapers, several of the stu-
dents and alumni who had denounced the faculty, including
Stevenson, were indicted by the Grand Jury for causing a riot
and were finally brought to trial in the Court of Sessions or
Mayor's Court. De Witt Clinton was then Mayor. The
defendants had engaged eminent counsel in D. B. Ogden,
Josiah O. Hoffman and Peter A. Jay. Mr. Jay argued that if
the college permitted students to discuss political questions
they should be allowed free exercise of their own views, other-
wise there was no freedom in debate and the students were
simply mouthpieces of professors ; that there was nothing in
the statutes of the College imposing the penalty of a refusal of
a degree if a student would not incorporate in his speech
what a professor directed him to put into it; that it was not
the young men on trial but the faculty who were responsible
for the disturbance, and that in the sense of the law there had
been no riot.
De Witt Clinton, however, was in no mood to pay any
respect to the law in the case, insisting that there had been a
riot. He angrily said that the disturbance was the most dis-
graceful, the most unprecedented, the most unjustifiable and
the most outrageous that had ever come to the knowledge of
the Court, and he charged the jury to find the defendants
guilty on account of having had a hand in a disgraceful riot.
The jury brought in a verdict of guilty, and Clinton fined the
defendants two hundred dollars each.
ORATION ON WASHINGTON
On the 22d of February, 1810, Mr. Jay delivered by request
an oration before the Washington Benevolent Society.
As this is the first public oration by Mr. Jay that has been
preserved, a few extracts are given below, sufficient to indi-
cate his style and manner of address :
" In the long series of ages over which history sheds her
feeble light, scattered with unequal intervals appear a few
great names shining like stars amidst the general obscurity.
Some are clustered into constellations, and some are the more
conspicuous for being unrivalled and alone. But when nar-
rowly observed by the light of truth and reason, how many
of them are found to fade as in the beams of the sun, and to
have owed their celebrity less to their intrinsic lustre than
to the darkness that surrounded them.
" How few of the heroes of antiquity deserve to be com-
pared with the hero of America. Shall the rash and vain-
glorious Alexander, who, to satisfy an insatiable ambition,
desolated unoffending nations shall Gesar, who pointed his
parricidal arms against his country, and founded his throne
upon the ruins of her liberty shall the cold-hearted Augus-
tus, who steeped his native soil with the noblest blood of its
inhabitants shall these, or men resembling these, be opposed
to the renown of the man who fought and lived for his coun-
try only? Who led his fellow-citizens through all the perils
of a long and unequal combat to victory, liberty, and safety
who was the instrument of the Most High, not to scourge a
guilty world, but to dispense to this our native land the bles-
sings of freedom, independence, security and order.
" How then shall I perform the task which you require;
PETER A. JAY
how shall I pronounce a eulogy on him whose merits are
" My brethren, I will not; he needs no eulogy. Garlands
of flowers might hide, but could not adorn, a statue by Praxi-
teles. Where all is perfect, what more can be desired than to
expose it distinctly to the view?
" . . . Yet his military talents form but a small part of the
materials which compose the perennial monument of his
fame. Skill in a particular act denotes the great artist, not
always the great man. Able captains abound in every age,
while a man truly great is almost a prodigy.
" Indeed, military glory, though of all kinds the most se-
ductive, is seldom entitled to our esteem or approbation.
When the fancy figures an immense multitude arrayed in
arms, all obedient to the voice of one man, ready to endure
toil, to encounter danger, and to sacrifice their lives at his
command, we are struck with awe at the imposing picture of
irresistible power. But power, when it is the agent of malig-
nant passions or inordinate desires, should be regarded with
abhorrence, and not with veneration. It suggests the idea of
the great enemy of mankind seeking to destroy. Do we
honour the lightning that blasts, the conflagration that de-
vours, the inundation that sweeps away, in an hour, the labour
of years ? Do we sing praises to the hurricane, the earth-
quake, or the pestilence ? It is the glorious sun which vivifies
and illumines ; the genial warmth that invigorates ; the kindly
rain that fertilizes and refreshes; the peaceful river, that, like
the majestic Hudson, enriches its shores, and wafts upon its
bosom the tributes which agriculture and commerce render
ORATION ON WASHINGTON
to each other. It is the useful agents of nature that we regard
with affection, and for which we offer our thanksgiving to the
Father of Mercies. The union of wisdom and virtue with
power can alone entitle it to veneration. Thus united, it
must necessarily be employed in acts of beneficence, and it
then exhibits a lively image of the Deity.
" The power entrusted to Washington was always thus
united, and thus employed. . . .
" The history of all republics has shown, that when such
a state has completed a revolution by means of an army, it is
easy for the master of that army to command the State.
Washington resisted the glittering temptation, and listened
solely to the dictates of duty; he promptly and indignantly
repressed the first movements of treason among the troops ;
he soothed, he dispersed, and by degrees disbanded them; he
resigned his command; he exerted every honest act to com-
pose the public disorders ; and with unwearied zeal and dili-
gence promoted every design which could give stability to
the government, and preserve peace and harmony to the
people, till his labours were finally consummated in a free
" My brethren, the heart warms at the recollection of this
disinterestedness. Does it not discover more magnanimity,
and confer more true glory, than all the blood-stained trophies
of the conqueror of Europe?
" In the eyes of reason and philosophy his resignation, in
the circumstances that accompanied it, is alone sufficient to
entitle him to immortality."
Fast following the deaths of her brothers, Frederick and
PETER A. JAY
Augustus, came the death of Eve, eldest child of Peter Jay and
Mary Van Cortlandt. Eve was born November 9, 1728, and
on the 31st of March, 1766, married Henry, or, as he always
wrote his name, Harry, Munro. Mr. Munro was a widower
and a Scotchman. He had been educated at the University
of Edinburgh, studied for the ministry, and in 1757 was ad-
mitted to Holy Orders in the Kirk of Scotland. He was soon
after appointed chaplain of the 77th regiment of Highlanders,
which was specially raised for service in America during the
" French War." After his arrival in America he was admit-
ted into the Episcopal Church and for nine years served as
rector of St. Peter's, Albany. His rectorship closed the colo-
nial era. The troublous period of the Revolution followed
and the doors of the churches were shut against those of the
Anglican clergy who were not in sympathy with the move-
ment and rebelled against the new order of things. For his
resistance to authority Mr. Munro was imprisoned, but made
his escape by night, and after much suffering, as he relates,
reached Diamond Island in Lake George. Thence he went
to Ticonderoga and to Canada, and in the summer of 1778
sailed from Quebec for England, never returning to America.
He died at Edinburgh May 30, 1801. In the winter of 1794,
during his trip to Scotland, Mr. Peter A. Jay visited his uncle
Mrs. Munro did not accompany her husband to Europe,
but remained with her father at Rye, and after her only child,
Peter Jay Munro, grew up, she resided with him until her
death, April 7, 1810.
In the spring of 1811 Mr. and Mrs. Jay moved from the
NOMINATED FOR CONGRESS
house they had been occupying in Vesey Street to No. 35
Pine Street. Mr. Jay had his law office in this house. The
birth of their eldest daughter, Mary Rutherfurd Jay, occurred
April 16, 1810, and another daughter, Sarah, December 19,
1811. Mrs. Banyer writes at this time: " Aunt Symmes says
your little girl resembles Sister Sallie. Sal insists upon it
Mary is my favorite, while she openly declares her preference
Mr. Jay was nominated for Congress by the " Peace and
Commerce " party, in the Fall of 1812, to represent the First
Congressional District, comprising Suffolk, Queens, Kings,
and Richmond Counties and the First and Second Wards of
the City of New York. His colleague on the ticket was Ben-
jamin B. Blydenberg. The nominees for the Second District
were Egbert Benson and Jotham Post.
In a letter to Mrs. Banyer after the election Mr. Jay says:
" We have gained the election and to my own surprise I am
a member of Congress, provided the election is not void,
which many of our lawyers think it is. As far as concerns
me, individually, I am flattered by the election, but shall be
glad to be excused the necessity of going to Washington,
which, however agreeable it might be in other respects, would
be an interruption to my business which I can very ill afford."
The " New York Gazette and General Advertiser " of Jan.
29, 1813, contains this announcement: " The votes for mem-
bers of Congress have been officially canvassed at Albany, and
the following Gentlemen are declared duly elected members
of the House of Representatives from this State. Nineteen
of the new members are Federalists and eight Democrats.
PETER A. JAY
" 1st District, John LefFerts, Ebenezer Sage. 2d District,
Egbert Benson, Jotham Post."
On what grounds Mr. Jay's election was void is not clear.
The matter was protested by Blydenberg and Jay in the House
of Representatives in July, 1813, was referred to a Committee,
and finally postponed to the next session of Congress. It
does not appear that any further action ever took place on the
Mr. Jay was again nominated for Congress, this time from
the Second District, New York, in December, 1813, to fill the
vacancy caused by the resignation of Egbert Benson, but was
defeated by William Irving by 379 votes.
Mr. Jay is at all times in correspondence with Bedford, and
numerous little services are performed by him in the city to
promote the comfort of the family there. Frequently the
letters are addressed to his father and his brother, William,
and at other times to his sister, Mrs. Banyer; writing to the
latter, in one of his letters he says : " To use a Spanish proverb,
may you live a thousand years and enjoy the happiness which
your disposition promises and deserves."
A mural tablet in St. Peter's Church at Albany may be seen
as one enters the building, which bears this inscription:
" Sacred to the memory of Goldsbrow Banyar, who died in
this city November 4, 1815, aged 91 years. He was a zealous
advocate of the doctrines and worship of the Protestant Epis-
The death of her father-in-law, old Mr. Banyer, ended Mrs.
Banyer's cares and self-denying duties in Albany. She remo-
ved to the city of New York, and bought a house 89 Liberty
SENDS SUPPLIES TO BEDFORD
Street, which she and her younger sister, Sally, continued to
occupy until the death of the latter on the 22d of April, 1818.
Under this further bereavement Mrs. Banyer broke up
housekeeping and again sought comfort in the endearments
of her father's house at Bedford. Later she built on Broad-
way adjoining her brother Peter's, and here she and her sister,
Nancy, lived until, with a view of securing a more quiet resi-
dence, Mrs. Banyer purchased as the future home for herself
and surviving sister, 20 Bond Street, where the closing years
of their united lives were spent.
Communication with Bedford in those days was by no
means as easy as its comparative proximity to the city would
lead one to suppose. A stage ran at intervals, but was hardly
adapted to furnish a convenient service for frequent inter-
course between the two places. As Mr. Jay writes to his
sister: " It is unfortunate that the stage goes out the same day
that your letters are delivered. I am obliged to answer them
instantly, and as it is in office hours that they come, I have to
do so in the midst of an hundred interruptions." No one,
however, appreciated the situation more than her brother,
and he adds : " I beg you will not hesitate to give me com-
missions whenever I can be of use to you. There are seasons
when I am incessantly employed, but there are also others
when I have leisure and which I can not employ more agreea-
bly than in being of service to you and the family."
The resources of a small Westchester village were practi-
cally tf/7, and Mr. Jay was only too glad to do what he could
by way of purchasing some of the household supplies in town.
Getting them up to Bedford was another question. Was it
PETER A. JAY
a book, or some stationery, or some medicine that Peter
would kindly send up, they would go by stage, but then the
stage would often not run at all for days at a time when the
snow was deep in winter. And in the summer-time, when
provisions and heavy freight were to be laid in, such as " four
barrels of flour," or " a quarter cask of good dry Lisbon
wine perhaps such may be had of Mr. Farquhar, or of Judge
Benson's nephew/' as writes the Governor, they would be
sent by the sloop Volunteer for " Sinsing," in care of Squire
Wood, but even this means of transportation sometimes failed
to give satisfaction. Perhaps the " light, baffling airs " of
the Tappan Zee, together with a pleasant aroma from that
cask of good dry Lisbon, tempted the Captain of the Volunteer
to linger awhile under the shadow of Verdrietege Hook to
taste the quality of the foreign vintage, he doubtless replenis-
hing in full with Hudson's sparkling fluid. At any rate, sus-
picion lies heavily against him, for we have the Governor's
word that " the wine last sent differs from that which we had
before," and again he writes, " The spinning machine you
sent for Nancy has not yet come to hand from Sinsing."
In addition to a very large law practice Mr. Jay had con-
stant employment in investing funds for his clients, as well as
for members of his family. The channels for investment
were then exceedingly few, being limited to United States
Stock, Bank and Fire Insurance Stock, Mortgages and Real
Estate. Among the shares which were well thought of by
Mr. Jay were those of the Merchants Bank, Manhattan Com-
pany and Bank of America, and the Globe and Washington
Insurance Companies. An order such as the following from
EMPLOYED IN INVESTMENTS
his father is typical of many received by him: " Having last
week received a little more than five hundred dollars, and ex-
pecting soon to receive further sums, I wish you to purchase
for me with the money in your hands, to the amount of eight
hundred dollars, such stock as in your opinion would be most
advisable." It seems, however, that in those days, no less
than now, investors had to keep a watchful eye on the legis-
latures. Surprises, in the way of additional taxation, or mea-
sures unfavorable to their securities, were constantly occur-
ring. A little later John Jay writes to his son : " It appears to
me advisable to dispose of some of my Bank Stock, and
therefore desire you to sell as many of my shares in the Mer-
chants Bank as from circumstances may, in your opinion, be
prudent, and invest the proceeds in stock of the United
States. I am apprehensive that the State Tax on dividends
may eventually, and perhaps soon, diminish the value and
price of the one, and increase that of the other."
The War of 1812 had now broken out, and while it lasted
the problem of getting any return at all on money by invest-
ment was a very serious one. Business in New York was al-
most at a standstill, and idle capital accumulated at that centre.
The fear of a visit from the British was an additional source of
alarm, and on account of it many people actually moved out
of the city. Mr. Jay writes to his sister in September, 1814:
" There is less alarm here than I expected to find, and I begin
to hope that the English do not intend to visit us from their
delay in coming. I think they would at least be collecting
their strength near this if they meant to attack us and not
remain in the Chesapeake. However, I shall take Papa's ad-
PETER A. JAY
vice on the subject, and am going with Mary to Rye to-day
and to Bedford to-morrow/' A week later he writes : " It is
said the British have been beaten at Baltimore and General
Ross killed. If so, we shall, I think, be safe here till next
year." Matters apparently grew worse, for on January 21,
1815, he again writes : " We are all anxious to hear from New
Orleans. Property to a large amount is owned by merchants
here and stored in that place. One of the Ogdens, it is said,
has cotton there to the amount of $ 120,000, and the whole
quantity of cotton at New Orleans is supposed to be of the
value of many millions of dollars. But the worst conse-
quence of its being taken will be the probable continuance of
Little did he think that while he was writing these words,
the country was at peace with Great Britain, the treaty of
Ghent having been signed on Christmas day, 1814, and the
battle of New Orleans having been won by General Andrew
Jackson several days later. The news of the battle did not
reach New York until February 6, 1815, nor did the people
hear that the treaty of peace had been signed until February
14. On the following day Mrs. Jay in a letter to Mrs. Ban-
yer, at Albany, says : " Were you not overjoyed at the news of
peace? You cannot imagine the change it has made in the
countenances of people here; every eye sparkles and congra-
tulations are continually exchanged. Goodhue, who had de-
termined to give up his house, has taken a lease of it for three
years. When the trety is ratified we are to have a grand
illumination and, I am told, fireworks."
At that time there were no savings-banks or other institu-
FAVORS SAVINGS-BANK SYSTEM
tions allowing interest on deposits, and the inconvenience of
having funds uninvested can be seen from the following,
written by Mr. Jay to his sister in 1814: " I have not yet
disposed of your money. If there were any reasonable hopes
of peace I should purchase bank stock. But in the present
state of things I think that would be risking too much, and
have agreed to lend it to Trinity Church. They do not want
it immediately, and I have agreed to keep it till they do want
it, which will probably be in about two months. By this
means you lose interest in the interval, but I preferred this
arrangement as being upon the whole the most secure."
It is interesting to note here the part which Mr. Jay took in
establishing the savings-bank system in New York. Doubt-
less his knowledge of investments and experience among in-
vestors impressed him and others notably John Pintard and
Thomas Eddy with the need of a savings-bank to benefit
the working classes, encourage thrift, and help such as might
not be able to make safe investments for themselves. On
November 29, 1816, a number of citizens, most of whom be-
longed to the " Society for the Prevention of Pauperism,"
met in the assembly rooms of the City Hotel on Broadway to
discuss the advisability of establishing a savings-bank. From
that meeting dates the origin of the Bank for Savings, the
oldest institution of the kind in New York State, and, with
one exception, in the United States. The account of the
meeting as it appeared in the newspapers the next day is as
" Thomas Eddy was called to the chair and J. H. Cog-
geshall appointed secretary. The object of the meeting was
PETER A. JAY
stated and the principles of the proposed institution briefly
and pertinently explained by James Eastburn, seconded by
Dr. Watts. It was resolved that it is expedient to establish a
Savings Bank for the City of New York. A constitution was
submitted by Zachariah Lewis, which, having been read and
its principles discussed, was unanimously adopted. The fol-
lowing were appointed directors: Henry Rutgers, Thomas
R. Smith, Thomas C. Taylor, De Witt Clinton, Archibald
Grade, Cadwallader D. Colden, William Few, John Griscom,
Jeremiah Thompson, Francis B. Winthrop, Duncan P. Camp-
bell, Joseph H. Coggeshall, James Eastburn, John Pintard,
Jonas Mapes, Brockholst Livingston, William Bayard, Wil-
liam H. Harrison, Rensselaer Havens, William Wilson, Rich-
ard Varick, Thomas Eddy, Peter A. Jay, John Murray, Jr.,
John Slidell, Andrew Morris, Gilbert Aspinwall, Zachariah
Lewis, Thomas Buckley, and Najah Taylor."
At a meeting of the directors several committees were ap-
pointed, one of which was to apply to the Legislature for an
act of incorporation. This committee was headed by Peter
A. Jay. It proved no easy task to convince the committee of
the Legislature which considered the application of Mr. Jay,
and after months of deliberation they reported as follows to
the General Assembly:
" The committee submit the following as the result of their
investigation on the subject:
"That, however desirable it may be to encourage the poorer
classes of the community to save their hard earnings, and to
produce habits of industry and economy by holding out moti-
ves of interest to them so to do, still the committee are not
THE BANK FOR SAVINGS
convinced that under the present state of society in this coun-
try, an institution like this, which may be beneficial under
other circumstances and in older countries, can be put into
operation with advantage. The expense necessarily atten-
dant on such an establishment will lessen if not defeat the
benevolent views of the petitioners. And the committee
have yet to learn whether the object might not be ac-
complished with a greater prospect of success, and at the
same time avoid a new corporation, by making an arrange-
ment with one of the banks in New York to allow one of
their clerks to transact the business for a small extra allow-
" But, as the principle is a new one, the committee are un-
willing to preclude, by any opinion of theirs, the subject from
coming in the usual manner before the House, and they,
therefore, are induced to ask for leave to report by bill."
It was not until 1819 that the Bank for Savings was finally
able to secure a charter. On the 3d of July it opened for
business in a small room in a building which stood on the
south side of Chambers Street, now the northwest corner of
the Qty Hall Park. Over the entrance was a gilt beehive,
and inside was a bust of Franklin bearing the motto : " Take
care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of them-
The Bank for Savings was a success from the beginning
and soon outgrew its quarters. After moving twice to other
rooms on Chambers Street, ik built for itself, in 1856, a house
at 67 Bleecker Street, and is at present established at the south-
west corner of Fourth Avenue and Twenty-second street in a
PETER A. JAY
massive building only recently completed. In 1828 Mr. Jay
became first vice-president of the bank, having in 1826 held
the office of third vice-president and in the following year
that of second vice-president. In 1838 he resigned his office
and retired from the bank. The amount of money on de-
posit in 1837 was $ 3,533,000. At the present time the bank
has 150,994 depositors, and the sum on deposit is $74,480,000
an amount exceeded by that of only one or two other sav-
ings-banks in the country. And yet the New York Legisla-
ture in 1816 advised that it would be sufficient that a bank
clerk be assigned to do the work for an extra allowance in-
stead of undertaking the expense of maintaining a savings-
The death of another brother of the Governor now occurs,
leaving only two of the ten children surviving. Mr. Peter
Jay, the elder of the two blind children, died on the 8th of
July, 1813, in his seventy-ninth year. He succeeded to the
Rye estate after the death of his father.
Notwithstanding his lifelong affliction, he had always dis-
played wonderful ingenuity and sagacity. He was possessed
of a firm mind and an excellent character. At the age of
fifty-five he married Mary, a daughter of Evert and Elsie
Duyckinck. Mrs. Jay was born September 14, 1736, and
with her niece Effy continued to reside in the Rye house.
Before the introduction of steamboats by Fulton in 1807,
Mr. Jay, going to visit his sister, generally travelled to and
from Albany on horseback, but later came to patronize the
steamboat. In September, 1814, he writes : "We had a charm-
SIR JAMES JAY
ing passage down in the Fulton. The accommodations ate
in the best style and I think the difference of price beyond that
paid in the sail boats compensated by the difference in com-
fort." Steamboats then made the trip from New York to
Albany in thirty-six hours, or at the rate of between four and
five miles an hour, and the fare was seven dollars. As the
sloops and schooners were from four to seven days in making
the voyage between the two cities, passengers willingly paid
the increased fare on the steamboats. This enterprise be-
came so successful that in a short time incorporated compa-
nies were established to promote the traffic, and in 1816 Mr.
Jay was a stockholder in the North River Steamboat Com-
Sir James Jay survived his brother Peter scarcely more
than two years. In 1748, he had been sent by his father to
Bristol whence he was to go to London to study the Classics,
French and Mathematics. During his absence he applied
himself also to other studies and in a list of American gra-
duates in Medicine in the University of Edinburgh for 1753,
a record appears of " Jacobus Jay, Nov. Eboracensis." The
following year he was a physician to an Infirmary in London.
On another visit to England he was requested to solicit con-
tributions for King's (Columbia) College, and on the 25th of
March, 1763, King George III conferred on him the distinc-
tion of Knighthood for his success in the undertaking. He
returned to America prior to the Revolution, and during the
British occupation of New York was confined in prison in
that city, but was at once released on the arrival of Sir Guy
PETER A. JAY
Carleton in 1782. He was a Member from Rye, Westchestcr
County, southern district, of the New York Senate in 1778
1781. Continuing the practice of his profession at Spring-
field, near Newark, New Jersey, he died there October 20,
1815, aged eighty-three.
Doctor Samuel L. Mitchill, prominent in the social, literary
and scientific institutions of New York, in a letter of Decem-
ber 31, 1812, to his wife, wrote: " Sir James Jay has just left
me after having favored me with one of his most interesting
discourses. He is an extraordinary man to cross the ocean,
to travel by land and to walk and ride about the world as he
does at the age of more than fourscore."
On June 11, 1815, the fourth child of Mr. and Mrs. Jay
was born in New York. A month later Mr. Jay remarks in
a letter to his sister: " The little girl, too, is very fat and very
hearty. She has been baptised Catherine Helena after old
Mrs. Walter Rutherfurd and Mrs. John Rutherfurd."
The next year a committee, consisting of Messrs. W. Neil-
son, Jr., Wm. Henderson and David B. Ogden called upon
Mr. Jay to inform him of his selection by the General Com-
mittee of the Federal Republicans as one of the candidates for
the House of Assembly, expressing the hope that nothing
would induce him to decline it. Mr. Jay did not decline, and
being elected, attended the session which was convened at
Albany on the 30th of January, 1816, and adjourned on the
17th of April, 1816. Among his colleagues representing the
city of New York were Philip Brasher and Gen. Edward W.
Laight. Daniel D. Tompkins, Republican, was Governor
at the time. At this session the most prominent Federal
FAVORS ERIE CANAL PROJECT
speakers, says the report, were William A. Duer, Peter A.
Jay, Jacob R. Van Rensselaer, James Vanderpoel and James
Lynch, all gentlemen of conceded ability and influential mem-
bers of the party. Various subjects invited the attention of
the house, but none of more importance than a measure re-
commending the construction of the Erie Canal. Mr. De
Witt Clinton was a zealous advocate of the project. A large
public meeting was also held in Albany to help advance the
object, and in furtherance of this enterprise an act was passed
by the Legislature entitled " An act to provide for the impro-
vement of the inland navigation of this State." This mea-
sure met with the warm support of Mr. Jay. In Dr. David
Hosack's Memoir of De Witt Clinton, we read:
" Another class of benefactors to the system of canal navi-
gation may still be added, consisting of those who mainly con-
tributed to its ultimate success, by obviating the difficulties
and impediments which were accidentally or intentionally
thrown in the way to oppose its progress, or entirely to defeat
and frustrate the undertaking; for even after the subject had
been well understood by the members of the Legislature and
the bill was in its passage through the two houses, obstacles
were still presented at every step, which required all the ge-
nius and energy of the friends to the project to meet and
" To the Hon. Cadwallader Golden, Martin Van Buren,
Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer, James Lynch, Peter A. Jay,
William Ross, and William A. Duer, the State owed a debt
of gratitude for their patriotic exertions in behalf of the
PETER A. JAY
On the 3d of April, 1816, the house, as the first business of
the day, resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole upon
the bill. Mr. Duer was in the chair. The consideration of
the bill was resumed in Committee of the Whole on the 5th,
and taken up again on the 10th. On the llth the Committee
of the Whole was discharged from further consideration of
the bill, which was referred to a select committee consisting
of Mr. Oakley, Mr. Peter A. Jay, Col. Leavenworth of the
Army, Mr. Russell, and Mr. Vanderpoel of Kinderhook.
The fate of the bill seemed now more critical than ever:
" The selection of the Committee was peculiarly fortunate,
since, being a member of the Committee, and an ardent friend
of the project, it brought Mr. Jay out more actively in the
cause, than he would otherwise, perhaps, have deemed it his
duty to engage. The commanding talents and high personal
character of Mr. Jay, the wisdom of his remarks, and the affa-
bility and courtesy of his demeanor, were circumstances emi-
nently calculated to favor the cause which he now vigorously
espoused and the force of his powers was soon felt. The
consideration of the bill, in its amended form, was resumed
in Compiittee of the Whole on the 13th in the morning:
when, after an animated debate, the first section was adop-
ted." In the evening session which followed, it was propo-
sed to impose a local tax on the neighboring lands along the
middle section. This proposition, adopted, tended very much
to soften and abate the fear of the opposition, and things once
more assumed a brighter aspect. A great variety of amend-
ments were made to the bill: the date when the canal was to
be commenced, its expenditure, commissions appointed, etc.
ERIE CANAL FORMALLY OPENED
In this shape substantially it passed the Assembly by a vote of
83 to 16 and was sent to the Senate for concurrence.
Eight years were spent in constructing the Erie Canal. On
October 26, 1825, it was formally opened from Buffalo to
Albany. The first canal-boat to go through, the Seneca Chief,
had on board Governor Clinton, Joshua Foreman, Chancellor
Livingston, Thurlow Weed, Col. W. L. Stone and Gen.
Stephen Van Rensselaer. The arrival of the party in New
York harbor on November 4 was the occasion of an immense
While the Legislature was in session Mr. Jay, with his son
John, stayed with his sister, Mrs. Banyer, at Albany. Mrs.
Jay remained with the other children in New York. The lat-
ter took a great interest in the questions of the day and follo-
wed closely the debates in the Legislature as reported in the
" Courier." On one occasion she writes to Mr. Jay: " I can-
not express to you the pleasure I felt at seeing your speech so
highly complimented. All your friends are gratified and I
hear your praises repeated continually. A day rarely passes
without my seeing your name and that of your father highly
spoken of in the ' Courier.' "
In February, 1816, the nominations for the New York
gubernatorial election in April were made. Mr. Jay was as-
ked to be the Federal candidate, but declined. Writing to
him on this subject, Mrs. Jay says : " I hear you spoken of for
the next Federal candidate for Governor. I can only say I
hope it is not so, for though I feel flattered to hear your
praises and to see justice done to your talents, I yet think our
domestic fireside preferable to all the fame, and can almost
PETER A. JAY
venture to say that it is your opinion, but you are actuated by
a nobler motive love of your country." Again she writes :
" What you tell me of their wishing to nominate you for the
office of Governor is nothing new. I have already heard it
from several who have regretted you would not accept."
On February 16, Mr. Jay wrote to Senator Rufus King offer-
ing him, on behalf of the nominating committee, the Federal
nomination for Governor. A few days later Judge Morris
S. Miller of Utica writes to Mr. Jay: " You express doubts as
to Mr. King's acceptance. You probably will have his ans-
wer before this reaches you. I hope he will not decline
that would make ' confusion worse confounded/ You ask
what is to be done if Mr. King declines. I ask what can be
done, but to have a meeting at Albany, and nominate some-
body else, and I think every day's delay will do us injury.
The suspense in which the Party has been kept will certainly
operate against us ; the longer it is continued the worse it will
be. You will, I have no doubt, excuse me for saying that I
hope one day to see you Governor, and I therefore hope you
will not consent to be the candidate now."
Mr. JCing accepted the nomination, however, and Con-
gressman George Tibbits was nominated for Lieutenant-
Governor. The Republican candidates opposed to them
were Daniel D. Tompkins, for Governor, and John Taylor,
for Lieutenant-Go vernor. In the course of the ensuing cam-
paign Mr. Jay made a speech in which he vigorously assailed
those responsible for bringing on the War of 1812 and pre-
sented a strong argument for the return of the Federalist
party to power. As a clear statement of the political situa-
SPEECH ON POLITICAL SITUATION
tion at the close of the war, this speech, which follows below,
should be of interest.
" To THE ELECTORS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
" Fellow Citizens :
" The time will very shortly arrive when you are again to
choose the persons who are to administer the Government of
" In exercising this inestimable privilege every good citi-
zen, divesting himself of prejudice and passion, will be guided
solely by reason and experience. We beseech you to attend
to this admonition and to consider whether those who now
rule over you have merited a continuance of your confidence.
" At the time when the party now in power assumed the
management of your affairs our country was enjoying un-
exampled prosperity our Agriculture and our Commerce
flourished and amid all the storms which then agitated and
desolated Europe our Government had maintained abroad
the respect which was due to the American name.
" It will not be denied that these blessings were owing to
the Federal Constitution and to those who had framed, who
had adopted, and who had administered it. Why then were
" It was because you were promised still greater prosperity
by those who were eager to occupy the offices which had been
filled by Washington and his disciples.
" How have they fulfilled these promises?
" They told you that the funding system was an enormous
evil and that the public debt should be discharged, and they
PETER A. JAY
have themselves increased that debt by one hundred and fifty
millions of dollars.
" They told you that a standing army was dangerous to
your liberty, and they keep on foot a standing army of 10,000
men in time of peace, and their present candidate for the
Presidency has recommended that double that number should
" They told you that the taxes were unnecessarily heavy
and promised that the citizens should no longer behold the
face of the tax-gatherer, and that nothing should be taken
from the mouth of labor to supply the necessities of the state.
They have multiplied tax-gatherers tenfold they have dou-
bled the duties on imports and more than trebled the amount
of the other taxes.
" Has their conduct in relation to foreign affairs been more
wise or more beneficial than their domestic administration?
" Complaining of enormous injuries committed by Great
Britain, they determined to retaliate by an embargo on Ame-
rican commerce. At a time when none but the British and
American flags floated upon the ocean they thought to des-
troy the British commerce by prohibiting ours, as if the Eng-
lish trade must be ruined for want of a rival. A blockade of
our ports, such as our enemies afterwards maintained at so
enormous an expense and so great a risk, was instituted by
our own rulers and enforced by a series of oppressive laws
executed by Custom-house officers. Well might such a mea-
sure extort sarcasm instead of submission from the English
" When this expedient failed, they substituted for it a sys-
SPEECH ON POLITICAL SITUATION
tern of non-importation, their own sense of which is to be
found in the commercial convention which they have lately
ratified, in which they expressly stipulate they will not again
resort to it.
" But they now claim your confidence on account of the
wisdom they displayed in the conduct of the late war and in
concluding the treaty which terminated it.
" We will say nothing of the prudence which commenced
an offensive war before any preparations were made for carry-
ing it on, nor of the errors committed in the cause of it. Nor
will we remind you of the arbitrary tone which the adminis-
tration assumed, nor of their recommendation to fill the army
by conscription and to man the navy by impressment nor
of the suppression of the liberty of speech in Congress, but
we 0>///ask what have the people gained by the war?
" Has Great Britain renounced her claim to impress her
seamen from on board our vessels? Has she renounced her
doctrine of blockades? Has she promised compensation for
the injuries complained of under her Orders in Council?
" We have lost by the war the right of fishing on the shores
of Newfoundland. We have left the British in possession of
a part of the ancient territory of the United States, and we
have submitted to arbitration boundaries that had been so-
lemnly settled at the peace in 1783. But, we repeat it, what
have we gained? An addition of at least one hundred and
twenty millions of dollars to the national debt and a load of
taxes which will probably descend to the latest posterity.
" Has Great Britain lost anything by the war? If so, what
is it? Does any one doubt that before hostilities were com-
PETER A. JAY
menced she would joyfully have assented to a treaty precisely
like that of which our administration boasts? For what,
then, had so much blood been shed and so much treasure
" This war, like every other, has afforded opportunities of
displaying the conduct of those who were engaged in it, and
we acknowledge with gratitude and pride the valor and the
patriotism which our countrymen have shown upon the ocean
and the land. But it is to be remembered that a soldier may
acquire glory on the same field where his commander is dis-
graced, and that a commander may gather laurels while obey-
ing the injudicious orders of a weak administration.
" If neither the war nor the peace has produced any solid
advantage, those who conducted the one and negotiated the
other can derive from them no right to demand our applause.
" Upon examining the situation of our own State, we shall
find its finances dilapidated, a heavy debt incurred, its ordi-
nary expenses greatly increased and its ordinary revenues di-
minished we shall find a spirit of party animosity cherished
and encouraged and made the very foundation to support the
power of those in office. We shall find that they who have
most loudly and importunately proclaimed their attachment
to the people, ready to violate their rights whenever it may be
necessary to gratify a sordid appetite for the emoluments of
office. We remember when they burned the volumes of
whole counties, and we have recently seen them appoint in
effect the whole Magistracy of the State by the vote of a man
who they knew had received from the people no authority
SPEECH ON POLITICAL SITUATION
" We beseech you, fellow citizens, to reflect and examine
for yourselves whether we have advanced anything in this
address unsupported by facts ; and if not, whether the warn-
ings of experience and the counsels of reason do not equally
show the necessity of a change in the administration of your
" Being ourselves fully persuaded of that necessity, we res-
pectfully propose to you, as a person proper for the office of
Governor, the Honorable Rufus King. His known modera-
tion, his long and eminent public services both at home and
abroad, his acknowledged talents and his unsuspected inte-
grity are pledges that, if elected, he will not be the mere in-
strument of party, but the able and impartial Chief Magistrate
of the State. Unconnected with local politics, he has no
resentments to gratify nor partialities to indulge, and we may
reasonably hope that his administration will add to the pros-
perity and reputation of this great and respectable State.
" We also recommend to you for the office of Lieutenant-
Governor, the Honorable George Tibbits, whose experience
in Congress and in the Senate of this State has qualified him
for that situation and whose services and character are gene-
" We will only add our confident hope that every elector,
by whatever political denomination he may be known, shut-
ting his ears against the malevolent calumnies which too often
disgrace our elections and resisting every attempt to influence
his passions, or to bind him, against his convictions, by party
engagements, will act according to the dictates of his own
cool and deliberate judgment.
PETER A. JAY
" It is thus only that we can preserve our liberties, or ren-
der them a blessing, thus only that we can discharge the duties
which we owe to our posterity, to our country, and to the
great Author of all the privileges we enjoy."
The Republican party was already in power. Governor
Tompkins, who had been in office since 1807, presided over
the affairs of the State throughout the war. The party was
divided into two wings the Madisonians in favor of the war
and supported by Gov. Tompkins, and the Clintonians, op-
posed to the war in the beginning, led by De Witt Clinton.
The Federalists, on the other hand, represented the peace
party. Since 1800 the Federalists had slowly declined in
power, and as their patronage gradually fell away they had
nothing with which to sustain their adherents. They made
a determined stand against the war, but opposition to it,
however viewed in later times, was then unpopular. When
peace was declared, Governor Tompkins became more in
favor than ever; and in the general enthusiasm which follo-
wed, the Republicans were victorious at the polls in 1816.
Early in the following year Governor Tompkins resigned.
He was now to succeed to the Vice-Presidency, and De Witt
Clinton was elected Governor in his place. The ascendancy
of Clinton practically marked the end of the Federalist orga-
nisation, some of their best element subsequently going over
to his side.
Mr. Jay was again selected as one of the candidates for the
ensuing election for the House of Assembly, but while ex-
pressing his grateful feelings for this renewed proof of the
confidence of the committee, he stated that circumstances con-
strained him to decline a re-election.
On the 22d of April John Jay wrote to him: " I am glad
that your legislative labors are terminated. Your having de-
clined being a candidate at the next election meets with my
approval. In my opinion, your duty does not at present
either require or authorize a sacrifice of that kind/*
At the first session of the following year, Governor Tomp-
kins, in his message, recommended the entire Abolition of
Slavery in the State on and after the 4th of July, 1827. The
recommendation was favorably received and an Act to pro-
vide for its adoption passed, thus removing forever this ini-
quitous institution from the State. The energetic action of
such men as Peter A. Jay, William Jay, Cadwallader Golden
and Governor Tompkins, as we learn from newspapers of
the period, contributed to this result. Writing on this sub-
ject, McMaster says :
" The status of slavery had long been regarded as settled.
No one, at least at the North, supposed for a moment that
another slave State could ever be added to the Union. Even
the literature of anti-slavery ceased to appear. The moment,
therefore, the Missouri struggle, following upon the Loui-
siana Purchase, brought up the question of the further exten-
sion of slavery, the North was violently excited. A great
meeting was held in the Boston State House to protest against
any such action. The Philadelphia meeting took the ground
that the slavery of human beings was the greatest evil in the
United States, that it was at variance with the Declaration of
Independence and with the principles of universal liberty and
PETER A. JAY
human rights. At Baltimore the citizens gave expression to
The subject of slavery and the suppression of the slave
trade always interested Mr. Jay. An article which we find in
the " Evening Post " for November 19, 1819, seems pecu-
liarly fitting to be introduced here. The article recites : " Last
evening a general meeting of the citizens, consisting of at
least two thousand, was held at the Assembly Room, in the Qty
Hotel, for the purpose of expressing their sentiments of the
danger to be apprehended from the toleration of slavery in
any new State or Territory that may be hereafter admitted into
" Matthew Clarkson, Esq., was called to the chair and John
T. Irving appointed Secretary.
" The meeting being thus organized, Peter A. Jay, Esq.,
rose and addressed those present in a neat impressive speech,
ponting out in a feeling manner the cruelty of slavery and the
evils which would ultimately result to this country if it were
not prohibited. He concluded by offering a set of resolu-
tions. Among those present were William Bayard, Henry
Rutgfers, Archibald Gracie, Jonathan Goodhue, Charles Wal-
ker, George Newbold, Thomas Addis Emmet, Richard Varick
and Samuel L. Mitchill."
Mr. Jay was now engaged in making arrangements for
building a home for himself. His new residence was No. 398
Broadway, at the southeast corner of Broadway and Walker
Street. According to the contract, the house was to be of
Philadelphia brick, with stone trimmings, 28 feet front, three
REMOVAL TO BROADWAY
stories and garret, with stable in the rear, calling for a total
expenditure of $ 13,700. He moved into the new house in
1819, and continued to occupy it until his death. Walker
Street at that time was very far out of town. A writer of the
period says : " The few disconnected cottages which occupied
the east side of Broadway between Franklin and Canal Streets
began to give way before the march of improvement about
the year 1818. Handsome residences were then erected be-
tween Franklin and White Streets and between White and
Walker Streets. The first improvements were made by Mrs.
Banyer, widow of Goldsborough Banyer, and by Peter A.
Soon after moving into their new house, a daughter was
born to Mr. and Mrs. Jay. The date of her birth was Sep-
tember 12, 1819, and her name Anna Maria.
Among the Jay papers we find the following correspon-
dence, with later letters, between Mr. Jay and Dr. Robert
Hare, the distinguished physicist and chemist of Philadelphia:
"May 31, 1819.
" Dear Sir:
" I regret my being absent when you did me the honor to
call on me at the hotel. As I shall probably return to Phila-
delphia early in the morning, there will be no opportunity, I
fear, of making any acknowledgments personally. I take
this mode therefore of making them both for this and former
civilities, and at the same time send you some of my recent
productions, which I shall feel much more satisfied with my-
PETER A. JAY
self should they meet your approbation. With great esteem
" I am yours sincerely,
" ROBERT HARE.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
"NEW YORK, June, 1819.
" I am much obliged to you for the pamphlets you were so
kind as to send me, particularly for that on the ' Calorimotor.'
Though my acquaintance with the physical sciences is very
superficial, it is not difficult to convince me of their extensive
utility. There are few who can boast of knowing all that
their predecessors have learned, and to the few who add to
the general stock and enlarge the bounds of human know-
ledge not only honor, but gratitude is due. The first disco-
very concerning galvanism was, I believe, its effects on the
nerves of animals afterwards, the means of exciting it its
similarity to mechanical electricity (whence thek identity was,
perhaps, too hastily inferred) and its power of producing in-
tense heat. These, however, are mere facts, furnishing no
theory to explain its phenomena, or to guide the inquirer in
his search after the nature of this powerful agent. You have
now taken another step which promises important results.
If you succeed in establishing the affinity you seem to have
detected between the matter of heat and that of galvanism,
you will throw light on one of the most obscure subjects in
Natural Philosophy, You will prove the materiality of both
these agents. For to speak of attraction, between the mere
affections of bodies, seems to be scarcely sense. You will
explain the rationale of some mysterious operations of nature,
and may be ultimately led to discoveries of as much conse-
quence as the lightning rod. I hope you will not desist till
you have demonstrated the fact of this affinity, which you
have already rendered highly probable, and that you will pur-
sue the enquiries which it suggests. Should there be any
electricity in the sunbeam? Is there any connection between
the facts you mention and the cause of the thunder showers
which occur at the close of a hot summer day, or of the sud-
den abstraction of heat from the rain drops which occasion
hail, or of what is termed heat lightning? Do they tend to
explain some of the ordinary effects of lightning, such as the
destruction of the unhatched chicken or the souring of
" If I might venture on a verbal criticism, is not this word,
' Calorimotor,' too nearly allied in sound to * Calorimeter/
and might not another be found free from this objection ? If
I am not mistaken, your new doctrine is to make a noise, and
to be written and talked of, and in such case even names are
of some consequence.
" I am, dear sir,
" Yours very sincerely,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Doctor HARE."
Doctor Hare, before he was twenty, discovered what he
called " a hydrostatic blow-pipe," it was also known as
" the compound blowpipe." Silliman says it was the ear-
PETER A. JAY
liest and perhaps the most remarkable of Doctor Hare's ori-
ginal contributions to science. In 1816 he invented the
" Calorimotor," which forms one of the subjects of the cor-
respondence. This instrument was a form of battery by
which a large amount of heat was produced. About two
years later he again called on Mr. Jay and subsequently wrote
him the following letter:
"June 22, 1821.
" Dear Sir:
" I called at your former residence last evening, but found
you had removed without being able to learn whither.
" I ought sooner to have made my acknowledgments for
your favor of the 6th, but it has been my intention to do it
when I have leisure to reply more fully. Would you allow
me to hand your letter to Professer Silliman for his Journal?
It is my expectation to discuss in that work the preliminary
properties or nature of heat, or electricity, on which the hy-
pothesis in my memoir is founded. I might do it by way of
reply to you.
" I am, sir, with esteem and respect,
" Yours sincerely,
" ROBERT HARE.
"PETER A. JAY, Esq."
" In answer to your objections to the word, * Calorimotor *
I beg leave to observe that, as Volta had used the term ' Elec-
tromotor/ notwithstanding the previous word * Electro-
meter/ I had a high authority in favor of that name. I was
DE WITT CLINTON TO MR. JAY
unwilling to lose the possible influence of the analogy in aid
of the discrimination of my hypothesis thus, the uses in
which words of less difference in sound have distinct meaning
are numerous in language."
In 1820 Mr. Jay received the appointment of Recorder of
New York. That he should have been selected from among
all the Federalists, spontaneously and without solicitation, by
the Governor, De Witt Clinton, who was not in political
sympathy with him, manisfested in a marked degree the res-
pect and esteem which Mr. Jay evoked.
The same sentiments, probably, suggested the letter which
we subjoin, and we also insert Mr. Jay's reply:
" ALBANY, January 28, 1820.
" PETER A. JAY, Recorder.
" Dear Sir:
" I will receive with great pleasure any communication
from you respecting appointments in New York. It is no
compliment to say that I repose entire confidence in your
candor and in the purity of your views.
" I am, dear Sir,
" Yours truly,
" DE WITT CLINTON/'
" NEW YORK, February 8, 1820.
" Governor CLINTON.
" Dear Sir:
" I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 28th
PETER A. JAY
ult., and ought to have thanked you for it before. A short
absence from the city and a desire to state what had been done
on the subject of Senator, etc., has induced me to delay it, but
nothing is yet decided on that point.
" I am sensible of the honor you do me by allowing me to
write on the subject of appointments. I shall avail myself of
this permission sometimes, but shall do so sparingly because
I know the multitude of applications with which you must be
harassed and that you are yourself well acquainted with this
" With my best respects to Mrs. Clinton, I have the honor
" Your obedient servant,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY."
At about the same time, Bishop Hobart, of the diocese of
New York, a representative High Churchman, wrote to Mr.
Jay to inform him that he had been appointed by the con-
vention a Vice-President of the Protestant Episcopal Theolo-
gical Society. Mr. Jay declined the office.
Mr. W. W. Van Ness, whose career as a Judge was most
brilliant, had been a Federalist leader in the Assembly. He
writes to Mr. Jay in 1820:
" ALBANY, January 4, 1820.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq.
" Dear Sir:
" With great pleasure I announce to you our first victory
over Jacobinism, Apostacy and Faction. John C. Spencer is
W. W. VAN NESS TO MR. JAY
elected Speaker; not more than four or five men who have
been considered as Federalists have gone over to the enemy.
I am warranted, I think, in saying that you will be the Recor-
der of New York for another year at least. Mr. Rufus
King will be the Senator, though a strong effort is making to
" Believe me to be,
" Very sincerely yours,
" W. W. VAN NESS."
" NEW YORK, January 14, 1820.
" Hon. W.W. VAN NESS.
" Dear Sir:
" I am much obliged to you for your letters of the 4th and
llth inst. Had the opposition really opposed Mr. Rufus
King's election, I should have thought it the most singular
incident which has occurred. I am particularly happy to
learn that the Federal gentlemen are nearly unanimous. To
the Federal party our country owes its prosperity. I have
been educated in their principles, and though it is probable
that in future they will only occasionally, and as it were by
accident, have the ascendant, I should be exceedingly unwil-
ling to detach myself from them.
" I earnestly hope they may continue to act together. If
they divide, the little strength which remains to them will be
" I am, dear Sir,
" Your very obedient servant,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY."
PETER A. JAY
Judge Van Ness's predictions were not verified. The
Council of Appointment, elected at the extraordinary session
in November, 1820, was not called together until the 12th day
of January following. The proceedings of this Council, as
we read, beside many others, removed Cadwallader D. Golden
from the Mayoralty of New York to make room for Stephen
Allen, and Richard Riker was appointed Recorder in the place
of Peter A. Jay.
Upon his retirement Mr. Jay received from the New York
Bar the following testimonial of its appreciation of his servi-
ces as Recorder:
" To the Honorable PETER A. JAY, late Recorder of the City
of New York.
" The New York Bar, through the undersigned their Com-
mittee, take the opportunity offered by your retirement from
office, to express to you the high sense they entertain of your
deportment as a gentleman, your ability as a Lawyer and your
impartiality as a Magistrate, in the discharge of the laborious
duties of the Recordership of the City of New York.
" Permit us also, Sir, at the same time, to express the great
satisfaction we feel individually, in conveying to you the sen-
timents of the Body we have the honor to represent and in
assuring you that those sentiments are fully in coincidence
with our own.
" Many causes of great and general importance have been
decided by you during your administration. The Bar, con-
scious of the intelligence and legal ability which have charac-
TESTIMONIAL FROM NEW YORK BAR
terized your decisions and placing full confidence in their ac-
curacy, are anxious to annex them to the general fund of
professional learning. We have, therefore, been instructed
by our constituents, while thus presenting to you their ex-
pressions of approbation and regard, to request that those
decisions may be placed under their control for publication.
" We have the honor to be, etc.,
" JOHN ANTHON,
" E. W. KING.
" NEW YORK, March 30, 1821."
" NEW YORK, March 30, 1821.
" JOHN ANTHON, Esq., )
" Permit me through you to express my hearty thanks to
the New York Bar for their kind approbation of my conduct
which you have so politely communicated. In returning to
the practice of my profession it is exceedingly gratifying to
find that I possess the esteem of my brethren. This new and
unexpected proof of their friendship has added to the grati-
tude I have already felt for their deportment towards me
while I was upon the Bench.
" In relation to the Decisions of which their partiality has
induced them to speak in such flattering terms, I cannot think
them of sufficient importance to justify an addition to the
mass of legal publications which is continually accumulating
and becoming burthensome to the profession.
PETER A. JAY
" With very sincere respect and esteem for the gentlemen
of the Bar and for yourselves individually,
" I am, gentlemen,
" Your very obed't serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY/'
In June, 1821, a special election was held for the choice of
delegates to a Convention to revise the Constitution of the
State of New York. From Westchester County the success-
ful candidates were Peter A. Jay; his cousin, Peter Jay Munro;
and Jonathan Ward.
The Convention of 1821 marks the culmination of an epoch
in the constitutional history of New York State, notable for
the strict adherence to the usages and institutions of a former
century, and the brilliant, though conservative, administra-
tion of a powerful judicial establishment. This ancient re-
gime, so to speak, from its very inflexibility and concentration
of power, was bound in course of time to succumb before the
advancing tide of democratic principles and make way for an
era hitherto unknown of political freedom and power granted
to the people.
Two of the chief reasons for desiring to amend the Con-
stitution at this time were discontent with the property quali-
fications for electors and a growing distrust of the political
power of the Judiciary. Since the State Constitution had
been adopted in 1777 the growth of the population had been
very large, but the number of freeholders qualified to vote for
Governor and other officers had not increased in anything
like the same proportion. This made the people at large
AT CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
anxious for a change. Then again, in the minds of the truly
democratic men of the day, the power of the Chancellor under
the Constitution was altogether too great. Even the term
" chancellor " was repugnant to them as being associated
with monarchical government and suggestive of royalty.
But the principal cause of complaint was the power of veto
on all legislation held by the Chancellor as a member of the
Council of Revision, in which he sat together with the Judges
of the Supreme Court and the Governor. The New York
Court of Chancery, under Livingston and Lansing, had achie-
ved a prestige, the consummation of which was realized upon
the elevation of Kent to the chancellorship in 1814. The
brilliancy of Kent's career was not compromised by any inno-
vations, but, while content to abide by the constitutional limi-
tations of his office, he nevertheless jealously guarded, to the
very end, all the powers that were granted to him as a heritage,
perhaps, from the English chancery system. When, in 1820,
the Democratic party of revision passed a bill for a conven-
tion to amend the Constitution, the Council of Revision
promptly vetoed it, the opinion being handed down by
Chancellor Kent. This veto met with a storm of disappro-
val, being regarded as a typical example of the power of the
Judiciary to defeat the will of the people. The following
year the question was finally submitted to a popular election
and carried by an overwhelming majority.
The convention, to which Mr. Jay had been summoned as
a member, met at Albany on August 28, 1 821 . One hundred
and ten delegates were present, out of a total of one hundred
and twenty-five, representing all parties, Republicans (now
PETER A, JAY
called Democrats), Federalists, Clintonians and Bucktails.
Although the convention was organized along strict party
lines, yet the coming contest was one between the forces of
restless American progression, as opposed to those of the lan-
ded and legal interests which represented the old order of
things; the independent rural element against the established
citizenship of the urban communities. This may have been
caused by the recent settlement in many of the newer central
and western counties of the State, of pioneers from New Eng-
land pushing westward towards the Ohio country. These
people naturally brought with them the Puritanical ideas of
government surviving in New England, and were not at all
in sympathy with those prevailing in the older parts of New
York the outgrowth of colonial times. The representatives
in the convention of this new element found a champion in
Ex-Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, who was called " the fa-
vorite farmer's son." Uniting with the Democratic revisio-
nists, they elected him President by a vote of 94 to 16. The
chairman of each of the ten committees was, with but one ex-
ception, a Democrat. The key-note for what should follow
in the next two months was thus definitely struck. Not that
every question could be decided by such overwhelming odds ;
many of the votes were very close, several standing 63 to
59, 61 to 59 and 62 to 53; but from the outset the revisionists
knew their strength and pressed their advantage to the ut-
On the other hand, the opposition, although decidedly in
the minority, was only the more determined, and the debates
called forth the ability and eloquence of its most distinguished
AT CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
members. From Albany, and the other counties of the Hud-
son valley, such men as Chancellor James Kent, Chief Justice
Ambrose Spencer, General Stephen Van Rensselaer, Peter A.
Jay, Judges Jonas Platt and William W. Van Ness, all stanch
upholders of the existing Constitution, met the attacks of the
New York and Western delegations, among whom were Se-
nators Rufus King and Nathan Sanford, John Duer, General
Erastus Root, Martin Van Buren and Ex-Governor Daniel
D. Tompkins. The debates which followed were as bitterly
contested as any which the history of the State records.
" Our prospects here grow more unpleasant," writes Mr. Jay
to his father on October 10. " The more violent members
of the convention begin to act more in a body and to gather
strength. Upon the whole, there is a good deal of bad feel-
ing, and I should not be surprised if something very violent
should be attempted in relation to the Judiciary. . . . We
have had a long and latterly angry contest about the appoint-
ment of Justice of the Peace. The dominant party, who gave
up the Council of Appointment with great reluctance, were
anxious to retain the power of appointing these magistrates
at Albany, and Mr. Van Buren proposed a plan for this pur-
pose which he openly urged on party grounds; others, very
desirous that the minority should not be utterly excluded
from office, proposed to elect Justices by the people. This
enraged the Jacobins exceedingly, who were obliged to argue
in contradiction to their own principles and professions. I
voted against both plans and both were lost. The contest
ended in the adoption of a scheme by which the power of
appointing is lodged in the Supervisors and County Court.
PETER A. JAY
The discussion has produced violent animosity between the
followers of Mr. Van Buren and the New York delegation,
and the latter seem to me to be alarmed and to be acting
The great question of extending the right of suffrage, as
antagonistic to the property or freehold qualification, was
distinctly presented and argued with equal talent and ability
by those who favored, and by those opposed to, its adoption.
The plan ultimately accepted was a compromise, the basis of
the franchise being considerably enlarged. Mr. Jay was
averse to making the suffrage universal, but favored its exten-
sion to the colored population, introducing his views on this
subject in one of the most eloquent speeches made during the
convention. His motion was carried by a vote of 63 to 59,
but its effect was nullified later, when the whole question of
the elective franchise was referred to a select committee of
Among the other acts of the convention, the abolition of
the Council of Revision, vesting a limited veto power in the
Governor, assumed far-reaching importance. So also did
the abandonment of the Council of Appointment, with its
enormous patronage of over six thousand civil officers. The
term of office for the Governor was fixed at two years instead
of three. When the Judiciary question came up for discus-
sion, there arose a wide divergence of opinion in the conven-
tion as to the reforms to be made. Some of the radical mem-
bers even went so far as to suggest overthrowing the Court
of Chancery and the Supreme Court. Here it was that the
counsel of prudent men like Chancellor Kent, Mr. Van Vech-
NEW CONSTITUTION RATIFIED
ten and Mr. Jay carried such weight with the opposite party
that no such revolutionary plan was put through. Only
minor changes were made in the powers of some of the Jud-
ges, while the Supreme Court was reduced to three Justices.
The convention adjourned on November 10, having adop-
ted the amended Constitution. Mr. Jay was one of the eight
members who voted against it. Fifteen other members, in-
cluding Chancellor Kent, Chief Justice Spencer, Judge Platt
and General Van Rensselaer, withheld their signatures.
" Many of the Democratic members were dissatisfied with
it," wrote Mr. Jay to his father, " but did not dare to separate
from their party. I think its chief defects are making the
right of suffrage universal, rendering the Judges of the Su-
preme Court dependent, and vesting the power of appoint-
ment, in almost all instances, in the Legislature. There
seems to be a passion for universal suffrage pervading the
Union. There remain only two States in which a qualifica-
tion, in respect of property, is retained. When those who
possess no property shall be more numerous than those who
have it, the consequence of this alteration will, I fear, be
The new Constitution was ratified in January, 1822, by a
popular vote of 75,422 against 41 ,497. Although considered
revolutionary at the time, the effects of the amendments pro-
ved beneficial and of great importance, and in 1829 led to a
revision of the statutes. The Court of Chancery had been
divested of its political power by the overturning of the
Council of Revision. Chancellor Kent, however, dit not
long remain in office, but retired in July, 1823, upon reaching
PETER A. JAY
the age limit of sixty years. It was not until 1846 that the
Court was finally abolished.
The Constitution of the State of Massachusetts had been
amended in a convention held shortly before the Albany
Convention. In February, 1822, John Jay, who had natur-
ally taken a great interest in both conventions, writes to his
son Peter as follows : " President Adams was so obliging as to
send me a volume containing the Proceedings of the late
Massachusetts Convention for amending their Constitution.
Purchase for me a volume of the Proceedings of our Conven-
tion. Let it be decently, but not splendidly ', bound, and send
it by Reynolds, or Calhoun. I intend to transmit it, with a
few lines, to Mr. Adams."
Upon Mr. Jay's return from the convention at Albany he
was offered the nomination for a seat in Congress from West-
chester County, but declined the honor and resumed his law
practice in New York. His second son was born on October
23, 1821, and named Peter Augustus Jay. The elder son,
John Clarkson Jay, was soon to enter Columbia College,
from which he graduated in 1827. Mr. Jay had always kept
up his interest in the affairs of the college and had served, as
we have seen, a term as trustee from 1812 to 1817. He now
in 1823 had entered upon his second term.
The Rye Estate, purchased in 1745 by Peter Jay (son of the
Huguenot, Augustus Jay), was devised by him to his son
Peter Jay (blind), and by the latter to his brother John Jay.
John Jay in turn now conveyed it, September 16, 1822, to his
elder son, Peter A. Jay, who continued to occupy it with his
family as a summer residence until his death in 1843, when it
YELLOW FEVER IN NEW YORK
became the inheritance of his eldest son, John C Jay. The
estate originally formed a part of the Budd or Rye Neck
Patent, 250 acres of which were leased of John Budd, a grand-
son of John Budd (one of the original grantees, under the
Indians, in 1661), by Peter Jay, March 25, 1745, and on the
succeeding day he obtained a release for the same. Four
acres of meadowland on Hen Island were purchased Septem-
ber 4, 1776, and other purchases have made additions to the
original grant, increasing the number of acres till they now
reach about four hundred.
In the autumn of 1822, being then owner of the estate,
Peter A. Jay, during a visit to Rye the widow of his uncle
Peter (Mary Duyckinck) still continuing her residence there
planted the three elm trees which, from their symmetry and
great size, have since attracted much attention. They stood
on the lawn east of the house, and were set out to take the
place of some venerable locusts which the year before had
been destroyed. At the present time two of the three trees
In the summer of this year, New York had again been visi-
ted by yellow fever. Everybody who could do so fled from
the city; the banks, custom-house, and other business houses
moved to Greenwich Village. Mr. Jay sent Mrs. Jay and the
children to stay with his father at Bedford.
The Whites, of England, cousins of the Jays, occasionally
made transatlantic voyages to visit their mother, Mrs. Henry
White, and their relatives and friends. Mrs. White, then a
widow, resided in New York, at Number 11 Broadway, on
the west side, opposite Bowling Green. She was a daughter
PETER A. JAY
of Frederick Van Cortlandt and Frances Jay, the latter a sister
of Peter Jay, father of the Governor. Mr. and Mrs. Van
Cortlandt had resided at the Manor-house, Lower Yonkers
the house Mr. Van Cortlandt built in 1748. General Fred-
erick White, a son of Mrs. Henry White, seems, by the letter
which follows, to have come over on a visit. Mr. Jay's letter
is addressed to the General's brother, John Chambers White,
then a Captain in the Royal Navy, but subsequently knighted
and made Admiral.
"NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 1822.
"Mj dear Sir:
" Your letter of the 22d August last arrived at a time when
the yellow fever had driven my family from the city, and
either through accident or carelessness it was not forwarded
to me, so that I only received it last week when I returned.
It should otherwise have been earlier answered.
" The disease has now entirely ceased, as it always does
upon the first appearance of ice. Though its ravages have
not been great, it has occasioned much distress and still more
inconvenience. While it continued your mother took refuge
with her brother at Yonkers. Mrs. Jay and myself visited
her there and were gratified at seeing her so cheerful and so
well. We found Mr. Van Cortlandt in bed with fever and
ague, but still in excellent spirits. He had not lived, he said,
for ninety-six years to be frightened with an ague. He was
old enough to know how to take care of himself. His physi-
cian was not so easy on the subject, but he recovered and is
in good health. He and your mother have wonderful con-
LETTER TO J. C WHITE, R. N.
stitutions and seem determined to disprove the theory that
people are short-lived in America. We all regret that the
General could not be induced to prolong his visit. The me-
lancholy circumstances in which he found his relations, and
the season of the year being that when our citizens are disper-
sed through the country, prevented his receiving all the atten-
tions which so many would have been happy to show him.
Besides, his habits, if as you say they are Germanised, must
have led him to consider our manners as wanting in that
polish which he certainly possesses in a high degree. Yet a
longer acquaintance would, I think, have made him better
pleased, and indeed it appeared to me that upon the whole he
liked the Country and its Inhabitants better than he had expec-
ted. The manners of the upper classes here are certainly less
polished than those of the same rank in England, but in re-
turn the common people are less vulgar. The Democracy
under which we live, to a certain extent amalgamates all clas-
ses; but if this mixture imparts some rusticity to the highest,
it also communicates a good deal of civility to the lowest.
" I am exceedingly happy to learn that you intend seeing
us again. Be assured you will find many who will rejoice at
your arrival. Let me hope that your coming will not be long
postponed; several of your relations and friends are aged.
My father and family continue as when you saw them. The
old Lady at Rye, whom you kindly remember, is still cheerful
and happy. The Mamaroneck family are all well. Mr. and
Mrs. de Lancey are settled at Philadelphia, where he is well
liked by his congregation. From your description of the
villa that you occupy, I fear Mrs. White will not be very will-
PETER A. JAY
ing to leave it. I trust, however, you will persuade her to
become acquainted with her relations here. Mrs. Jay, with
whom, by the by, you are a great favorite, desires to be parti-
cularly remembered to you and joins me in requesting you to
present our respects to Mrs. White.
" I am, dear sir,
" Your very obt. Serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Capt. J. C. WHITE, R. N.,
" Cecil Lodge, Abbots Langley,
" Hertfordshire, England."
The Van Cortlandt referred to in the letter was Augustus,
a brother of Mrs. Henry White, and then the occupant of the
house at Yonkers. He died December 20, 1823, in his
" The old Lady at Rye," about whom Captain White makes
inquiry, was the widow of Peter Jay, Mary Duyckinck, who
continued to occupy the house at Rye until her death, which
occurred April 25, 1824, eighteen months after this letter was
written, she being then eighty-seven years old.
John Wells, a man of great eminence at the New York
Bar, was the contemporary of Mr. Jay and six years his senior.
He died in 1823. His biographer, in reciting the names of
some of the prominent lawyers who were on friendly and
social terms with Mr. Wells, says :
" In this train came Peter A. Jay, a worthy scion of a noble
stock; learned as a lawyer, in manners polished, enjoying
ILLNESS OF GENERAL CLARKSON
with a genial disposition the mirth around him and contribut-
ing, by his stores of information and literary taste and by
agreeable and instructive conversation, to the pleasure of so-
ciety. He had been a member of the Legislature and left the
impress of his mind among the statutes that have permanently
promoted public welfare."
Wells's friend and rival Emmet, on the death of Wells, in
an address which he made on the occasion, used the tribute
expressed by Cicero on the death of Hortensius. "... Can
I not lament the death of him who increased my fame by be-
coming my rival? . . . "
In the summer of 1824, General La Fayette, after an ab-
sence of nearly fifty years, made a tour through the United
States. It had been known to be his intention to visit Mr.
John Jay, but instead of going to Bedford, a change of pro-
gramme was arranged which carried him directly from New
York to Boston.
On the 6th of September John Jay writes to his son Peter:
" We hear that General La Fayette and his numerous atten-
dants travelled the whole way to Boston in a thick cloud of
dust; if so, he may apply the old maxim in both its senses,
* Nulla sine Pulvere Palma? It is said that he is expected to be
in New York this week. If you should see him before his
departure to the southward, you may, perhaps, be informed
by him of some further particulars relative to his route and
In a letter to her father, Governor Jay, dated April 21, 1825,
Mrs. Banyer writes: " I am sorry to tell you that General
Clarkson is quite ill; Mary [his daughter Mrs. Jay] was sent
PETER A. JAY
for this morning and has been with him all day. Brother
[Mr. Jay] came home this evening and said Doctor Post
thought his disease Dropsy in the chest. He has not been
well for some time. I cannot but hope, however, that he
will be relieved, and that a life so valuable to his family and to
the community may be spared." The disease congestion
of the lungs gradually assumed a more threatening aspect;
no physician's skill could arrest its progress, and the General's
death occurred a few days later, in his sixty-ninth year. The
many papers of the day published numerous tributes to his
worth. At the ensuing anniversary of the American Bible
Society, the Hon. James Kent, ex-Chancellor of the State,
spoke of General Clarkson as follows :
" I would beg repectfully to add my humble tribute of
respect and reverence to the memory of the late senior Vice-
President of this Society, with whom I had the honor to be
acquainted, and whose pure and excellent character has ex-
cited universal love and esteem. No person appeared to me
more entirely exempted from the baneful influence of narrow
and selfish considerations, or who pursued more steadily and
successfully the vivid lights of Christian philanthropy. He
was eminently distinguished in the whole course of his life
for benevolence of temper, for purity of principle, for an
active and zealous discharge of duty, for simplicity of manner,
for unpretending modesty of deportment and for integrity of
heart. It was his business and his delight to afford consola-
tion to the distressed, to relieve the wants of the needy, to
instruct the ignorant, to reclaim the vicious, to visit the
fatherless and the widow in their affliction and to keep him-
.S. L. Waldo
1823 AGE 64
In the possession of the family of Mr. and Mrs. David Clarkson
TRIBUTE TO GENERAL GLARKSON
self unspotted from the world. Such a portrait is not to be
drawn from all the records of heathen antiquity. It presents
an elevation of moral grandeur, ' above all Greek, above all
Roman fame/ It belongs to Christianity alone to form and
to animate such a character/*
Mr. and Mrs. Jay had commenced housekeeping at Rye.
The large house and ample grounds were well adapted for
bringing up thek seven children, the youngest of whom,
Elizabeth Qarkson Jay, was just two years old, having been
born on July 2, 1823. A letter from Mrs. Jay gives a little
glimpse of the life there at this period. The letter is addres-
sed to Miss Mary Rutherfurd at Edgerston, on the Passaic,
New Jersey, a first cousin of Mrs. Jay and daughter of John
and granddaughter of Walter Rutherfurd who came from
Scotland to America.
"RYE, July 29, 1825.
" Dear Mary:
" I have been expecting a visit from you or one or more
of your family for some time past. Mary wrote to Louisa
the week before last, reminding her that her friends at Rye
were very anxious to see the inhabitants of Edgerston.
" Your mother, I hope, will not forget her promise I
think I could make her time pass very agreeably for a fort-
night at least, and I think change of air and riding about
would be of great service to her. Tell Uncle I want to con-
sult him about an ice house and other improvements and wish
him to taste my homemade bread and rusk. We have bought
PETER A. JAY
but one loaf of bakers' since we came here. I do not find
housekeeping half the trouble that it was in New York, al-
though we have dined but three times alone since we came
here, and several times in large number. What do you think
of twenty and twenty-two, including my children?
" We have been expecting Helen and Stuyvesant, and hope
they will not long delay paying us a visit. John has fixed a
nice awning on our boat, so that with two good oarsmen we
can row about at our pleasure. We bathe at the flats, which
I am sure would be of service to Aunt. We sometimes go
before breakfast and sometimes in the evening. The beach
is a fine sandy one and extends for more than a mile. I am
more and more pleased with the place, and only wish that
Mr. Jay could enjoy it all the time with us; I rise at half-past
five or six o'clock, but we do not breakfast until seven or
half-past. We dine at half-past one o'clock. You will laugh
and say quite primitive hours.
" If I could leave my children I think I should take a ride
to Edgerston and bring with me as many as the waggon will
hold. I regret on this account that Effy Duyckinck is not
with us she went away, nearly a month since, to jaunt about
with Mrs. Campbell's family.
" My children are all well and very happy. They are in
school four hours during the day. Mary left us with her
Uncle William on a visit to Bedford last Tuesday. Adieu,
my dear Mary.
" Believe me sincerely yours,
" MARY R. JAY.
" Miss RUTHERFURD."
J. FENIMORE COOPER
J. Fenimore Cooper, both at school and at Yale, had been
a classmate and friend of William Jay. Their friendship con-
tinued through life. Cooper was for some time a resident at
Rye. In 1811 he had married into the Huguenot family of
the de Lanceys, who resided at Mamaroneck, in the immediate
neighborhood of Rye. This intimacy extended to other
members of the family, and Mr. Cooper was frequently a
visitor at the city house of the Jays and, later, at their house in
the country. After spending a number of years at Coopers-
town, New York, he returned to Westchester and took up
his residence on a farm at Scarsdale, about five miles from
Mamaroneck. It was while living on this farm in the year
1820 that Cooper commenced to write. His first serious at-
tempt at novel-writing was " The Spy/' published in 1821 1
The principal character in " The Spy " was suggested to
Cooper by John Jay, and one of the scenes of the novel is gen-
erally believed to be laid on the Jay farm at Rye. Professor
Thomas R. Lounsbury, in his " Life of J. Fenimore Cooper,"
gives an interesting description of how Cooper came to write
" The Spy," in the course of which he says: " He naturally
turned for his subject to the Revolution, with the details of
which he was familiar by his acquaintance with the men who
had shared prominently in its conduct and had felt all the
keenness of a personal triumph in its success. The very
country, moreover, in which he had made his home was full
of recollections. Westchester had been the neutral ground
between the English forces stationed in New York, and the
American army encamped in the highlands of the Hudson.
Upon it more, perhaps, than upon any other portion of the
PETER A. JAY
soil of the revolted colonies had fallen the curse of war in its
heaviest form. Back and forth over a large part of it had
perpetually ebbed and flowed the tide of battle. Not a road
was there which had not been swept again and again by
columns of infantry or squadrons of horse. Every thicket
had been the hiding-place of refugees or spies; every wood or
meadow the scene of a skirmish; every house that survived
the struggle boasted its tale of thrilling scenes that had taken
place within its walls. These circumstances determined
Cooper's choice of the place and period. Years before,
while at the residence of John Jay, his host gave, one summer
afternoon, the account of a spy that had been in his service
during the war. The coolness, shrewdness, fearlessness, but
above all the unselfish patriotism, of the man had profoundly
impressed the Revolutionary leader who employed him.
The story made an equally deep impression upon Cooper.
He now resolved to take it as the foundation of the tale
he had been persuaded to write. The result was that on
the 22d of December, 1821, the novel of 'The Spy' was
quietly advertised in the New York papers as published on
In 1822 Cooper moved to New York, and in the two suc-
ceeding years published " The Pioneers " and " The Pilot/*
In 1825 he decided to travel abroad for a period of five years,
and in February, just before his departure, published " The
Last of the Mohicans." Cooper's popularity was then at its
height; both in America and in Europe he was likened to Sk
Walter Scott. During his residence abroad he occasionally
corresponded with Mr. and Mrs. Jay, and among his letters
COOPER TO MRS. JAY
which have escaped the ravages of time we are enabled to
insert the following:
" PARIS, 1826.
" Dear Mrs. Jay:
" Well, where did I leave off? It was after the diplomatic
dinner at Mrs. Brown's, was it not? We will say it was.
Since then the world has jogged on at Paris much as it does
in other places. As winter approaches the town begins to
fill, and handsome equipages and genteel-looking people are
now abundant. In the meantime, our minister has been obli-
ged to quit the Palais de Bourbon, at the expiration of his
lease, and to move into the Hotel de Castries, which is a noble
house nearly opposite in the same street. Mrs. Brown is
very elegant here, and in point of furniture even more elegant
than before, though her rooms now are no more than the
apartments of a high nobleman, whereas they were before
those of a Prince. I dine there every two or three weeks, and
visit them much oftener.
" The Princess Gallitzin continues her kindness, which is
of great service to us, as she keeps decidedly some of the best
French and all the best Russian society in Paris. She has now
a daughter and a daughter-in-law both arrived, the former
from Italy, and the latter from England; and as both have
handsome apartments and give parties, we visit both. The
former is the widow of an Italian (the Marquise di Tern) and
a clever woman who speaks five languages well; the latter,
the Princess de Gallitzin, n6e Souvaroff, is the granddaughter
of the Souvaroff, or Souvarow, as we call her, and is more
PETER A. JAY
distinguished for her musical attainments. I do assure you
they give very pleasant little affairs. The other night the
Princess Souvaroff gave a great affair, at which we attended,
where there was a supper and ball. It was quite brilliant and
honored with the company of the Russian Ambassador, the
well known Pozzo di Borgo, to whom I was for the first time
" Well, about a week ago I was descending the stairs of our
hotel, which you know are common property to everybody
that inhabits the building, when I met an old man ascending,
as I thought, with a good deal of difficulty. There was a
carriage in the court, and from something in his countenance
as well as from his air and the circumstance of the coach, I
thought he was coming to see me. Indeed, I fancied I knew
the face, though I could not remember the name. We passed
each other, looking hard and bowing, and I was just going
out of the door when the stranger suddenly stopped and said
" c Est-ce que monsieur Cooper que j'ai Phonneur de voir ?'
" c Monsieur, je m'appelle Cooper.'
" ' Je suis Walter Scott.'
" Here was an introduction for you ! worth a thousand let-
ters, or the most formal presentations. We shook hands. I
expressed my thanks for the honor, and he passed an hour
with me in my cabinet. I am delighted with him. He trea-
ted me like a younger brother and spoke in the kindest and
most encouraging manner. The two next days I breakfasted
with him. He then paid me another visit, and we met once
more at the Princess Gallitzin's, who gave him a famous
COOPER TO MRS. JAY
soiree. The ladies all appeared in tartans and shawls. The
family sang an air composed by the Princess Galiitzin (Souva-
roff), and the words were a translation by the old lady from a
song in the Monastery. It went off well, for the French do
these things wonderfully well, and this family, though Rus-
sian in fact, are quite French in manners. The next day Sir
Walter departed for London.
" Very respectfully yours,
" J. FENIMORE COOPER.
" Mrs. PETER A. JAY."
At about this time Mr. Jay was unanimously elected Presi-
dent of the High School of the City of New York and of the
American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews;
and he also received the appointment of Trustee of the Col-
lege of Physicians and Surgeons ; but finding that his engage-
ments would not permit him to perform in a satisfactory
manner the duties of these offices, he respectfully declined
them all. Previous to the year 1822 he had served as a
Director and Treasurer of the Society for Meliorating the
Condition of the Jews. In resigning from this Society, Mr.
Jay wrote to the President: " I heartily pray that it may be
instrumental in promoting the spiritual and temporal welfare
of that ancient and wonderful people whose present Infidelity
is among the strongest evidences of the Religion they reject,
and whose future conversion will be but the Riches of the
World and Life from the Dead/'
In December, 1825, Mr. Jay received a letter from Mr. J.
Rutsen Van Rensselaer, former Secretary of State and a dele-
PETER A. JAY
gate from Columbia County to the Convention of 1821, ask-
ing if it would be possible for his son to obtain a position in
Mr. Jay's office, to which he replied: " I am flattered by your
desiring to place your son in my office; I have already six
students and I have but little attorney's business. If his
object be to learn practice, there are many offices which
would afford him better opportunities for that purpose than
mine. But if you wish it I will for your sake receive him
with pleasure and endeavor to render the remainder of his
clerkship both agreeable and useful to him."
The following year Mr. Jay was appointed Counsel to the
Chatham Insurance Company and elected a director of the
Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company. He was also pro-
posed as candidate for the office of Chancellor, which was
then vacant; but he declined the nomination on the ground
that the salary ($ 2,000) did not equal the income derived
from his practice and would be insufficient for the support of
his family. His friend Samuel Jones was made Chancellor in
The death of Governor Clinton occurred suddenly on Feb-
ruary 11, 1828. While differing in his political views from
Jay, Clinton always respected Jay's judgment, and entertained
a personal friendship for him and his family. Only the pre-
vious year Mr. Jay received from Governor Clinton the fol-
THE NEW YORK LAW INSTITUTE
"ALBANY, Jan. 6, 1827.
"P. A. JAY, Esq.
" Your letter certainly required no apology. Any recom-
mendation of yours for any friend will always be acceptable
and treated with merited attention.
" I embrace this occasion to tender to you all the kind
wishes usual on the opening of the year, and I beg you to
present them also to Mrs. Jay, as we ought to open the New
Year with good dispositions. Tell the young lady who
charges me with being under female or, rather, uxorious
government that I forgive her and hope that her only punish-
ment will be a good and obedient husband who will submit his
neck to the yoke (as in duty bound) with entire submission.
" I am, very sincerely,
"DE WITT CLINTON."
On November 29th of this year Mr. Jay's eighth and last
child, Susan Matilda, was born.
The library of the New York Law Institute was founded
in February, 1828, mainly through the efforts of Chancellor
Kent. Heretofore the only collections of law books of any
extent or value in or near the city of New York were the
private libraries of Chancellor Kent and of Chief-Justice Jay
at Bedford. The purpose of the New York Law Institute
was to provide a library which should give to the members
of the bar access to the law reports and literature of all coun-
PETER A. JAY
tries. At its first meeting there were present Ogden Hoff-
man, Thomas Addis Emmet, Hugh Maxwell, James W.
Gerard, and many other leading members of the bar. James
Kent was elected President, and Peter A. Jay, Smith Thomp-
son and Beverley Robinson, Vice-Presidents. The begin-
nings of the library were made by the purchase of the library
of Robert Tillotson. Many of the members made donations,
Chancellor Kent presenting a set of his " Commentaries on
American Law." Referring to this subject in the " History
of the Bench and Bar," Mr. William H. Winters says : " Many
of the old classics of the law, rare and valuable reports and
commentaries, were the gifts of the accomplished scholar,
Peter A. Jay, the eldest son of Chief-Justice Jay. In the
future, upon the Law Institute's tablet of grateful recognition
of the friends and lovers of its library no names will be en-
graven deeper or more conspicuously than those of Peter A.
Jay and Charles O'Conor."
The rooms of the New York Law Institute are at present
in the Post-office building, and its library ranks as one of the
three leading libraries in the world of American and British
In the spring of 1829, Dr. Hare presented Mr. Jay with a
volume on chemistry, sending the following letter with it:
" PHILADELPHIA, Apiil 4, 1829.
" Dear Sir:
" As I remember that you are among those members of the
legal profession who retain some taste for the study of the
arcana of nature, I am encouraged to send you a volume of
MARRIAGE OF MARY R. JAY
which I am the author. It will be handed to you by my
nephew, George E. Hare, Esq., who is preparing for orders
in the church at the Episcopal Seminary at New York. He
is both worthy and intelligent.
" I regretted much some time ago to hear that you had
been a visitor in our city without my having had an oppor-
tunity of seeing you and of inviting you to my house. I am,
however, at times so arduously occupied as to remain ignorant
of the arrival and departure of the most distinguished persons.
" I remain, with esteem,
" Respectfully yours,
" ROBERT HARE.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
We have now to record the first wedding in the family,
that of Mr. and Mrs. Jay's eldest daughter, Mary Rutherfurd,
to Mr. Frederick Prime.
The following letter is addressed to Mr. Egbert Benson,
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, invit-
ing him to be present at the wedding:
" NEW YORK, April 24, 1829.
" Your friend Mary is to change her name on Thursday
evening, the 30th inst. She and her mother join me in re-
questing that you will favor us with your company on that
" My father has desired me to say to you that he hopes soon
to have the pleasure of seeing you at Bedford. He begs your
PETER A. JAY
acceptance of a couple of dozen of port, which Mr. G. Barclay
will send you.
" I am, Dear Sir, with great respect,
" Your very obt. servt.,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" EGBERT BENSON, Esq."
The death of Mr. Jay's father-in-law was soon followed by
the death of his father. We have seen Governor Jay in retire-
ment, " under the shadow of his own vine and fig-tree," his
complete withdrawal from public life, almost from society,
and we are at length come to speak of the close of his life a
life which covered a period of eighty-four years. Mr. Jay
died at Bedford on May 17, 1829, and was buried in the family
cemetery on the Rye estate. The simple monument which
marks his grave bears the following brief epitaph, written by
his son Peter A. Jay:
IN MEMORY OF JOHN JAY,
EMINENT AMONG THOSE WHO ASSERTED THE LIBERTY
AND ESTABLISHED THE INDEPENDENCE
OF HIS COUNTRY,
WHICH HE LONG SERVED IN THE MOST
LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE, JUDICIAL AND DIPLOMATIC,
AND DISTINGUISHED IN THEM ALL BY HIS
ABILITY, FIRMNESS, PATRIOTISM AND INTEGRITY.
HE WAS IN HIS LIFE AND IN HIS DEATH
AN EXAMPLE OF THE VIRTUES,
THE FAITH AND THE HOPES
OF A CHRISTIAN
It were indeed a task to draw into comparison the relative
merits of Jay and Hamilton, and yet it is a study not without
interest. A writer who has made a sketch of the character
of Jay has also left us his estimate of the distinguishing traits
of the two men, which is here presented:
" They were, undoubtedly, 'par nobilefratrum? and yet not
* twin brothers ' ; 'pares sed impares? like, but unlike. In pa-
triotic attachment equal, for who would venture therein to
assign to either the superiority: yet was that attachment,
though equal in degree, yet far different in kind. With
Hamilton it was a sentiment, with Jay a principle; with
Hamilton enthusiastic passion, with Jay duty as well as love;
with Hamilton patriotism was the paramount law, with Jay a
law * sub graviori. 9 Either would have gone through fire and
water to do his country service, and laid down freely his life
for her safety, Hamilton with the roused courage of a lion,
Jay with the calm friendliness of a man; or, rather, Hamilton's
courage would have been that of the soldier, Jay's that of the
Christian. Of the latter it might be truly said:
" ' Conscience made him firm,
That boon companion, who her strong breastplate
Buckles on him that fears no guilt within,
And bids him on and fear not/ "
The same writer says : " In intellectual power, in depth and
grasp and versatility of mind, as well as in all the splendid and
brilliant parts which captivate and adorn, Hamilton was
PETER A. JAY
greatly, not to say immeasurably, Jay's superior. In the
calm and deeper wisdom of practical duty; in the government
of others, and still more in the government of himself; in see-
ing clearly the right and following it whithersoever it led,
firmly, patiently, self-denyingly, Jay was again greatly, if not
immeasurably, Hamilton's superior. In statesmanlike talent
Hamilton's mind had in it more of ' constructive ' power,
Jay's of * executive.' Hamilton had Genius, Jay had Wis-
dom. We would have taken Hamilton to plan a govern-
ment and Jay to carry it into execution; and in a court of law
we would have had Hamilton for our advocate, if our cause
were generous, and Jay for our judge, if our cause were just.
" The fame of Hamilton, like his parts, we deem to shine
brighter and farher than Jay's; but we are not sure that it
should be so, or rather we are quite sure that it should not.
For when we come to examine and compare their relative
course, and its bearing on the country and its fortunes, the
reputation of Hamilton we find to go as far beyond his prac-
tical share in it, as Jay falls short of his. Hamilton's civil
official life was a brief and single, though brilliant one. Jay's
numbered the years of a generation, and exhausted every
department of diplomatic, civil and judicial trust. In fidelity
to their country both were pure to their heart's core; yet was
Hamilton loved, perhaps, more than trusted, and Jay trusted,
perhaps, more than loved.
" Such were they, we deem, in differing, if not contrasted
points of character. Their lives, too, when viewed from a
distance, stand out in equally striking, but much more painful
contrast. Jay's, viewed as a whole, has in it a completeness
THE BEDFORD ESTATE
of parts such as the nicer critic demands for the perfection of
an epic poem, with its beginning of promise, its heroic middle,
and its peaceful end, and partaking, too, somewhat of the
same cold stateliness noble, however, still and glorious, and
ever pointing, as such poems do, to the stars. * Sic itur ad
astra? The life of Hamilton, on the other hand, broken and
fragmentary, begun in the darkness of romantic interest, run-
ning on into the sympathy of all high passion, and at length
breaking off in the midst like some half-told tale of sorrow,
amid tears and blood, even as does the theme of the tragic
poet. The name of Hamilton, therefore, was a name to con-
jure with, that of Jay's to swear by. Hamilton had his frail-
ties, arising out of passion, as tragic heroes have. Jay's name
was faultless, and his course passionless, as becomes the epic
leader, and, in point of fact, was, while living, a name at
which frailty blushed and corruption trembled."
The Bedford Estate now passed to William Jay, who con-
tinued to occupy it with his family during the remainder of
his life. It afterwards became, by inheritance, the property
of his son, the Hon. John Jay, and since his decease his son,
Col. William Jay, has succeeded to its ownership. The estate
includes about eight hundred acres, part of a tract purchased
by Jacobus Van Cortlandt from Katonah, Sagamore, and
other Indian chieftains in 1700 and confirmed by patent of
Queen Anne in 1 704. It had come to Chief-Justice Jay partly
through his mother, Mary Van Cortlandt, the wife of Peter
Jay, and partly through her sister, Eve Van Cortlandt, the
wife of Judge Chambers.
In a letter to Mr. Cooper, who was then in Italy, under date
PETER A. JAY
of May 26, 1829, Mr. Jay says : " My good old father has paid
the debt of nature. He died on the 1 7th instant. I need not
tell you how much he was loved and venerated by his child-
ren. His departure was attended by every circumstance
which can lighten affliction for such a loss. Yet the separa-
tion is very painful, and I am not yet in a mood to write with
levity. William will continue to reside at Bedford. The
estate there is left to him. I have the ' stone house ' at New
York; and the rest of my father's property, except some
legacies, is to be divided equally among all his children.
Your friend Mary is married to Frederick Prime. My other
girls are growing up around me, and teach me, without look-
ing in the glass, that I am growing old. Still I must labor on
to maintain them, while you are enjoying all that can render
Europe agreeable. I rejoice in the laurels you are winning,
and trust they produce golden fruit. We should rejoice still
more if you should repose under their shade in Westchester.
Your ' Batchelor/ except that it paints us too favorably, is an
excellent book, and the predictions it contains are infinitely
less improbable than an Englishman could by any means be
made to believe. Capt. Basil Hall, we are told, is going to
lash us. Few men have been better received here than he
was, yet he left us, I believe, in a sore humour. His condes-
cension and desire to instruct us, though meant to show
humility and kindness, were felt as arrogance, and his wife
indulged herself in criticisms upon the American ladies which
justly displeased the latter.
" You will find at your return our Society much changed;
some whom you knew are dead, some bankrupt, many absent,
LETTER TO J. FENIMORE COOPER
some are married, a few grown rich, and numbers of new
faces appear daily on the stage. If you stay away much lon-
ger, you will be almost as much a stranger here as at Paris.
Come back while you have some old friends left. We are
longing to see your new novel with the odd name, and your
travels in Switzerland will, I doubt not, be instructive as well
as amusing. It is a country, after all, which, if you except the
scenery, I think I should not admire; however, you are a
better judge and I shall acquiesce in your decision. We have
no political news which will interest you. There are a great
many appointments and disappointments. Of course, some
are gratified and many displeased. What are to be the dis-
tinguishing features of General Jackson's administration can-
not yet be determined. Hitherto there has been nothing to
denote great ability nor perhaps the reverse. It is probable
that things will go on pretty much in the old way."
On July 4, 1829, a short time after his father's death, Will-
iam Jay wrote to his brother as follows : " I have found the
address of the Corporation to Papa on presenting him with
the freedom of the city, and his answer. These papers, to-
gether with the gold box, ought and no doubt will descend as
heirlooms in the family, and on various accounts you are the
proper depositary of them. I shall send them by Helen, and
I beg you to accept them. In this request Maria and Nancy
concur." The gold box is now in the possession of Mr.
Jay's grandson, Dr. John C. Jay, and to him also belongs the
teapot, a gift from Benjamin Franklin to John Jay. The
Marquise de La Fayette presented two chairs to Mrs. Jay on
her leaving Paris, the cushions of which are enriched with the
PETER A. JAY
needlework of the Marquise. These chairs are now the in-
heritance of the families of two of Mr. Jay's daughters, Mrs.
Pierrepont and Mrs. Clarkson.
A society, known as " The Club," of which Columbia
College was the centre, and which is called, in " The Memo-
rial History of New York/' " a charming literary coterie,"
but whose fame has almost disappeared, was now established.
An account of this Society, written by Dr. John Augustine
Smith in the letter of invitation to Mr. Gallatin to join the
company, November 2, 1829, deserves to be recorded:
" Nearly two years ago some of the literary gentlemen of
the city, feeling severely the almost total want of intercourse
among themselves, determined to establish an association
which should bring them more frequently into contact. Ac-
cordingly they founded * The Club/ as it is commonly called,
and which I believe I mentioned to you when I had the plea-
sure of seeing you in Bond Street. Into this ' dub 9 twelve
persons only are admitted, and there are at present three gent-
lemen of the bar, Chancellor Kent, Messrs. Johnston and Jay;
three professors of Columbia College, Messrs. McVickar,
Moore and Renwick; the Rev. Drs. Wainwright and Mat-
hews, the former of the Episcopal, the latter of the Presby-
terian Church; two merchants, Messrs. Bos worth and Good-
hue; and I have the honor to represent the medical faculty.
Our twelfth associate was Mr. Morse of the National Aca-
demy of Design, of which he was president, and his departure
for Europe has caused a vacancy. For agreeableness of con-
versation there is nothing in New York at all comparable to
our Institution. We meet once a week; no officers, no for-
" THE CLUB "
malities; invitations are given in case of intelligent and dis-
tinguished strangers, and after a light repast [we] retire about
" Chancellor Kent had been the one centre of attraction at
these meetings, but Mr. Gallatin brought in a more varied
conversation. Indeed, in this art he is said to have had no
rival on this side of the Atlantic, and Talleyrand alone on the
We are again able to add letters of Mr. Cooper, which,
from the prospective view they take of European politics, are
" DRESDEN, July 15, 1830.
" My dear Sir:
" The five years set for our absence will expke next sum-
mer, and we begin to talk seriously of returning. Still there
are powerful motives to induce me to remain abroad a year
or two longer. My youngest children are just beginning to
reap the advantages of their position, and it seems unwise to
deprive them of them so soon. . . .
" In addition to the interests of my children, I have a strong
desire to visit Turkey and Greece. The facilities now are
great. It is thought that a steamboat will run next summer
between Naples and Constantinople. The quarantine is the
one great embarrassment to the intercourse.
" After a residence of nineteen months, we have left Italy
with regret. That and Switzerland are the only two coun-
tries simply as countries that are worth crossing the ocean
PETER A. JAY
to see. We find Germany tame after the regions we have
left. Dresden is the cheapest place we have inhabited, though
Florence would not be dear were it not for the knavery of the
domestics. One can live in Dresden for about the same
money as in New York, though there is no comparison be-
tween the indulgences of the two places. The commonest
things with you are rare luxuries all over Europe. I remem-
ber the wife of an English Peer pressing me to eat a Dutch
herring at a splendid dinner; and on my manifesting no tm-
pressement to taste the fish, she gravely assured me that it was
impossible to get them, except through the favor of an Am-
" I hardly know what to tell you of Europe. I think
things are drawing to a crisis, however, and that a very great
good, or a tremendous struggle, will be the consequence. In
order that you may understand the nature of the contest, I
will go a little into detail.
" The whole of this quarter of the world is divided into
two great parties. They have different names in different
countries, but their objects and tendencies are everywhere the
same, subject to such modifications as depend only on local
causes. One side is struggling to reap the advantages of the
revolutions, and the other to arrest them. Of course the
latter class is composed of all those who are in possession of
power and emoluments as things are at present, aided by
those who have lost by the struggle. In consequence of the
discredit into which religion fell during the Revolution in
France, and some tendency which Liberalism in politicks has
to create laxity in morals, that is to say, with those who have
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
just broken out of restraint, this party has managed to enlist
a multitude of conscientious and well-disposed people on its
side, merely under the belief that amelioration of the policy of
governments will be fatal to Christianity. The moving
spring, as you will readily see, is interest. It is odd enough
that the High Churchmen of England and the Catholic bigots
all over Europe are on the same side, and on the same pre-
tence. All wish to preserve their local monopolies.
" In this state of feeling the exertions of the Church of
Rome to regain its lost influence are of incredible perse-
verance and of great discretion. Austria cultivates religion
as a powerful state engine, and France wished to do the same
thing. But the freedom of the press interferes, and hence
" What will be the result in France is hard to say. The
whole question depends on its fate in France. If she recede,
Europe will recede; if she advance, Europe will advance.
There is no greater error than to suppose that the influence of
England is salutary, as respects the settlement of these impor-
tant interests. It is surprising how much better the tendency
of the English system is understood in Europe than in Ame-
rica, where one would think it ought to be understood so
well. Here it is considered a system calculated to favor every
species of monopoly under a pretence of liberality and free-
dom. There is a strong evidence that this opinion is right,
in the fact that the rulers of France are willing enough to
assimilate their own institutions to those of England, which
would be to substitute the onerous power of an oligarchy to
that of the crown. Prince Polignac, the head of the present
PETER A. JAY
administration, is the head of this school. He has received
his training in England, which country would gladly stop the
current of free opinions at that point, rather than let it go
farther. The two great objects of England are to preserve
its monopolies as a country, and to preserve the ascendancy
of its aristocracy. England and Austria have much to lose
and little to gain by wars or revolutions ; they are, therefore,
natural allies, and act in concert on all these questions.
" You know the result of the elections in France. It now
remains to be seen what course the King will take. There is
certainly a powerful party in France in favor of the Republick
not a Republick like ours, but one that shall give the con-
trol to the electors and diminish the taxes. Both the King
and the Dauphin have become unpopular. There is a gene-
ral, and perhaps it is a correct, opinion that had Louis XVI
shown more energy, he might have arrested the Revolution
of '89. The French rulers seem to act on this idea. They
forget, however, that the remedy which cures one disease is
fatal to another. The France of 1789 no more resembles
what France is now, than a man in a fury resembles one sim-
ply resolved to protect his rights.
" I think the whole resolves itself into this. If the King
of France yields to the electors, he will become a pageant like
him of England, and the Liberals of course will carry on the
government. The Liberals do not like England or Austria.
They want Savoy and the Rhine. They are now in Algiers,
and the next administration may not deem itself bound to
regard any pledges which the present may have given to
relinquish it. In that event there will probably be a war.
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
England's only aversion to a war with France is simply, I
think, the danger of drawing other nations into the conflict.
She has little trade with France; and as there is no probability
that the scenes of Napoleon's reign will be renewed, she
might make the war exclusively maritime. But a maritime
war will drive her to an assertion of her pretended maritime
rights, and then other nations will interfere. Another war
with us will dispose of the question of manufactures, and do
much towards changing the sceptre of the seas. Still, I think
she would run the hazard, rather than see France finally esta-
blished in Africa, or even see her frontier materially extended.
The feeling among the better sort of Englishmen is general,
that there is great danger of a war should the Liberals succeed
in France I am quite convinced, if they do not, there will be
" Germany is not quiet, though the people are sluggish and
far from enterprising. I am thoroughly convinced that the
whole secret of Buonaparte's success is to be found in the
method and slowness of the Germans. He broke through
the restraint of antiquated rules himself, and conquered them
by hazarding all. We should harness a pair of horses in
America in half the time they would harness them in France;
and in France they do it in half the time it is done in Ger-
many. The rule is good in graver matters. The Italians
would have beaten him at his own game, but they had no-
thing to fight for. They wished a change of masters.
" We have just had here a celebration of a jubilee in honor
of the Reformation. The Court is Catholic to bigotry, while
the people of Saxony are Protestants. There were many
PETER A. JAY
riots in different places, and some few lives have been lost.
The desire of the people is here, as everywhere, a constitution.
" I regret greatly that our Government does not make a
greater exhibition of its naval forces. It is the only thing by
which we are known, or through which we are respected.
Two or three millions a year more would be of the last im-
portance to our strength and our influence. These people
are so much accustomed to see everything on a grand scale,
that they will not believe we keep our resources in reserve.
I have made a curious set of calculations by which it is arith-
metically demonstrated that the U. S. can man and maintain
fifty sail of the line in the event of a war, taking the premises
from the past. If the illiberals of Europe get the ascendancy,
we shall have to struggle for our existence. They cannot
even now contain their exultation at the slightest rumor that
is unfavorable to the perpetuity of our institutions. I am
fully persuaded that England is, at this moment, intriguing
in the Southern States in order to separate the Union. It is a
common topic in all English society, and they scarcely affect
to conceal their hopes. You will see the interest they take in
this question, when you reflect that their ascendancy depends
on our downfall. These things should be gravely considered
at home, and a remedy applied. I have great confidence in
the perpetuity of the Union, but then we have to fight for it.
" I have met, abroad, one of the Cruger family who is a
Carolinian. He had a good deal of talent, and I take it he is
well acquainted with the intentions of the leaders of the
present anti-Union party in his State. There is much more
of feeling than of reason in their politicks, though their argu-
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
ment is far from bad in all that respects the general merits of
the question of State Rights. I go with him, for I can see no
greater danger than to endeavor to stretch the Constitution of
the U. S. by construction over the powers of the States. It
is very well to wish to see improvements going on, but they
are bought too dear at the price of internal harmony and at
the sacrifice of the compact of union. The great error at
home appears to me to be a wish to apply European theories
to our state of things. We are unique as a government, and
we must look for our maxims in the natural corollaries of the
Constitution. The real strength of the Union is its apparent
weakness ; for were we to wish to legislate as they do in Eng-
land, for instance, we should soon draw the whole fabric
about our ears. There is no motive for such legislation,
since the General Government is not a government of terri-
tory, but one of definite objects. The effects of this Govern-
ment, properly considered and rightly administered, approach
as near sublimity as can be hoped for in any human institution.
Internally, it gives us uniformity and accommodation in a
thousand of our nearest interests, opens a wide sphere for
individual enterprises, and precludes the necessity of all vexa-
tious and demoralizing restraints which are the curse of small
territories. In addition to all these advantages, it produces
the negative good of keeping those in amity who would in-
fallibly become the bitterest foes in the event of a separation.
Externally it gives us honor, influence and protection, at a
rate so cheap as to be marvellous. Now it seems to me that
these are advantages of sufficient value to render us quiet
under some apparent feebleness in the central power.
PETER A. JAY
" Cruger complains bitterly of the tone of the Northern
States on the subject of slavery. Is he not right? Reverse
the case, and place ourselves in their situation, with property
and even life in jeopardy at any moment we should not like
to see or hear what is constantly written and proclaimed at
the North. He carries his resentment too far, no doubt.
He tells me that his State will retire for a time if Congress
does not repeal the tariff. I asked him when she meant to
return, and whether she was sure of being received? He
thought the separation would not be long, and that it would
serve to settle many constitutional principles. He was of
opinion that she would open her port. I asked him how
many sloops of war it would take to shut it ! He seemed
struck with the last question, and wished to know if I thought
Mr. Jackson would resort to such an expedient? How could
he doubt it 1 The man would be a traitor to the Country to
do otherwise. You see, this simple expedient would effec-
tually throw the onus of proceeding offensively on the State.
Now whom would they attack? Their neighbors? They
wish them for friends. I believe I convinced him that it was
easier to invent theories on this subject, than to contend with
a force like that which the Constitution gives the Executive.
" An article lately appeared in the * Courier * (English
paper) which was quoted from a paper in Carolina. It laid
down the ground that the Union could easily be divided into
five parts, viz. : New England, the Middle States, the Southern
Atlantic States, the Western and South-Western. This opin-
ion may have been first published in South Carolina, but it is
not an American idea. The English have a most overwecn-
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
ing opinion of their moral influence, and they believe they can
throw out ideas in this way, for others to act on. You will
see that a simple division of the country in moieties is not
enough for England; the fragments would be too large.
She wishes to cut us up in pieces to suit her own views 1 No
American would have conceived such a plan, for no man at
all acquainted with the country would, for instance, think of
separating New England from New York. Vermont and
Connecticut are just as much natural dependents of New
York, geographically speaking, as Otsego and Ontario coun-
ties. Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio are, again, indis-
solubly united, and each of them brings its own train of
dependents along. The idea was English, rely on it, and it
is part of a systemati2ed plan that is as vigorously acted on as
England dare act in her present enfeebled state. If she perse-
vere, she will drive us into another war. There is no safer
means, less expensive, or more honorable or more constitu-
tional way of giving an imposing aspect to the Union than by
an exhibition of its naval force. In the event of a European
war, and it is not distant, I think we shall have to arm in
defence of our maritime rights.
" Of one truth I am deeply convinced. Neither the Gov-
ernment nor the people of the U. States are sufficiently appri-
zed of what is doing in this hemisphere in matters connected
with these our dearest interests.
" Very truly yours,
" J. FENIMORE COOPER.
"P. A. JAY, Esq."
PETER A. JAY
In 1775 an American wrote upon a window of an inn in
England the following lines :
" Hail, happy Britain ! Freedom's blest retreat,
Great is thy power, thy wealth, thy glory great.
But wealth and power have no immortal day,
For all things only ripen to decay:
And when that time arrives, the lot of all,
When Britain's glory, wealth, and power must fall,
Then shall thy sons for such is Heaven's decree
In other worlds another Britain see,
And what thou art, America shall be."
America is now witnessing and England is also realising
the fulfilling of this prophecy, and we must look to England's
continuous and persistent efforts through years to avert this
result to find the cause of Cooper's indignation in his letter.
" DRESDEN, July 26, 1830.
" Dear Mr. Jay:
" I got your letter at Venice on our way up from lower
Italy into Germany. We quitted Florence the last of July,
1829, and went by sea to Naples, touching at the island of
Elba. Our stay in and about Naples rather exceeded four
months, when we went to Rome. I hired a house, or rather
a castle, at Sorrento, in the Bay of Naples, where we passed
three months very delightfully. The building stands on the
cliffs and actually overhangs the water. The house is the one
in which Tasso is said to have been born, and I refer you to
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
a description of its view in the mouth of Seadrift, one of the
principal characters in a tale called ' The Water Witch/ which
is already printed. . . ,
" Of Rome it is unnecessary to speak. It is still Rome in
its ruins, its position and its recollections. ... As to the
society of Rome, it is now a mixture of all nations, in which
the English rather predominate. The Buonapartes are at
Rome in great numbers. I saw them all except Lucien, who
lives at his estate of Canino. He is much impoverished,
though he has lately discovered in his grounds a cemetery of
those who preceded the Romans, the Etruscans, and he
has collected a superb museum of vases which he will proba-
bly sell for more than $ 100,000, and some of them are valued
as high as $ 2000 apiece. Jerome lives in a good deal of
style, and enjoys his ancient reputation, which is none of the
best. His wife, a sister of the reigning King of Wiirtemberg,
is a good-natured, fat personage, who has much merit for her
domestic virtues, but is a little absurd on account of her airs
of royalty. She is protected by the different Courts on ac-
count of her family. We saw the Mother of Buonaparte two
or three times. She is a plain, unaffected, motherly old
woman, much wrapt up in her children and without the least
pretension to elegance of manner, or to any extraordinary
quality. She may have been handsome in youth, but the
character of the Buonaparte face, which is certainly fine, is as
certainly derived from old Carlo Buonaparte the Father, who,
judging from a bust, was a handsome model for all his sons.
Madame still speaks French like an Italian, and Italian like a
Corsican. In short, she is a mean resemblance of Aunt Jay
PETER A. JAY
in exterior; neither so handsome nor so noble, and a very
every-day woman in manner and language. The absurdity
is in trying to make her a heroine. Hortense is an affable,
good-hearted woman of fifty, with no remains of beauty, and
with manners that are not in the least dignified. She seems
frank and easy by nature, but she is too much of a fidget.
Louis is simple, dignified and gentlemanlike. He lives at
Florence, and his wife at Rome; they do not see each other.
" From Rome we crossed the Apennines by the Col Finto,
entered the March of Ancona, and went to Loretto, Ancona,
Rimini, Bologna, Ferrara, Padua and Venice, thence through
the heart of the Tyrol into Bavaria. We have now been in
Saxony two months, and hope to stay here three months
longer. . . .
" J. FENIMORE COOPER."
" PARIS, Sept. 8, 1830.
" My dear Sir:
" I have just seen letters from Constantinople. They say
that the Turks look for the intervention of England in the
affair of Algiers, and that they hope to regain their lost ascen-
dancy over the African regencies. Our agents complain
there, as they do everywhere else, of the English influence
being used against us. Of this fact be assured there is not a
shadow of doubt: as a nation, and often as individuals, they
do us all the harm they can. Our consul at Naples told me
that, a few years since, they actually obstructed his negotia-
tion of bills for the use of the squadron, making the bankers
believe we were not to be trusted.
J. FENIMORE COOPER TO MR. JAY
" The ignorance of America all over Europe is marvellous.
They confound us with the South American states and with
the aborigines. My girls were in school at Dresden to learn
German. When they came away the mistress of the school
betrayed an important secret. During their stay she had re-
ceived a multitude of applications to see them as curiosities.
Her answer was uniform: ' The children are intrusted to me
to be instructed, and not exhibited as a show.' Many were
not satisfied with this reply, and wrote to know of what shade
of black they were. The school-mistress had but one answer
to make, c They are the fairest children in my school/
which I really believe was the fact. One lady actually wrote
to me, requesting an interview. Of course I could not refuse,
as she offered to visit me. I entertained her as well as I
could with remarks about her own country, and such infor-
mation of ours as she wished to hear. When she took her
leave, she expressed her gratitude for the reception, letting
drop, at the same time, an expression which said very plainly
that she had not been as much amused by my external ap-
pearance as she had expected to be. I desired an explana-
tion, and with some embarrassment she acknowledged that
had she not known I was an American, she might have sup-
posed I was an European. Most of those who meet me be-
lieve I am an Englishman naturalized. The Grand Duke of
Tuscany asked me plainly, ' Of what country are you, in fact?
(De quel pays etes vous, vraiment?) 9
" The King is very simple in his habits scarcely a King in
this respect. I have met him walking in the Tuileries, and
once riding on the/r^/ seat of a sort of light wagon, with the
PETER A. JAY
Queen on the hinder seat. No guards indeed, there an no
guards at present. The review of the National Guards was
really imposing. There were probably 40,000 men under
arms, with La Fayette at their head. For a few days the old
veteran held the fate of France in his single hand. He is very
active, and still very important.
" I was at the soiree of La Fayette last night, when, to the
amazement of everybody, old Talleyrand walked into the
room. He is named Ambassador to England. We have a
hundred reports, which fly about from hour to hour. One,
and it is the most important at this moment, says that the
English Cabinet is divided in opinion concerning the revo-
lution in Belgium. Wellington says the King of Holland
must be supported, and his colleagues say no. The Dutch-
men are very much inflamed against the Flemings and excite
the King to violence. If England lends her aid, and they say
there is a treaty to that effect, there will be a war in a month.
If she plays off, the crisis will be retarded; but on one thing
you may rely the frontiers of France will be the Alps and
the Rhine, whether it be a few years sooner or later.
" I flatter myself you will be glad to hear that after five
years of indigestion, my stomach is getting sound again, and
that I am now in better health than I have been since the
illness in Beach Street. I have just sent home a book, and
now am at work on another, whose scene is in Italy.
" With best regards to all your family,
" I remain very truly and gratefully yours,
" J. FENIMORE COOPER.
"PETER A. JAY, Esq."
MR. JAY TO J, FENIMORE COOPER
An extract of a letter from Mr. Jay to Mr. Cooper under
date of November 22, 1830, succeeds:
" Your account of the state of Europe is very interesting
and accords with that which we receive from other quarters.
A spirit of discontent evidently pervades that Continent, and
I think with you that it proceeds less from particular than
from general causes. It appears to me that the poorer classes,
having been taught their own strength, are desirous to change
situations with those who are now above them. This feeling
is doubtless exasperated by those grievances which always
occur in all times and places. Europe seems to be in a state
of transition, as a geologist would call it, from its present
state to some other what that other will be requires more
prescience to predict than I possess.
" You weie too modest to mention your having had the
honor to dine with the Citizen Monarch, but you see it is
known here. I heartily wish that his power may be per-
manent and his nation happy. That France sighs for Bel-
gium is well known. She can obtain it only by war, and it
is not unlikely that war will result from the troubles in that
country. The political horizon portends a storm. What
effect it will have upon England it is not easy to conjecture.
The government of that country is not, as you suppose, a
moneyed corporation, but one of the strongest landed aristo-
cracies in existence. Liberal principles have spread widely
there, but are not much tainted with Jacobinism. With wise
management, I think she may weather the storm.
" Mrs. Jay and I are obliged to you for your amusing letter
to her. Your abode at Sorrento must have been delightful,
PETER A. JAY
and I shall rejoice to read the description of it by Mr. Seadrift.
The Mediterranean recalls so many recollections of ancient
history, sacred and profane, that it is everywhere interesting;
and its old promontories, tinged with purple and crowned
with buildings of shapes new to us, and erected for purposes
to which we are unaccustomed, render many parts of it won-
derfully picturesque. You have skimmed over Europe,
alighting and renewing your flight like a bee, not only sip-
ping the sweets, but, I hope, collecting honey for the winter.
I wish I could be a wanderer, too. But I am chained to the
oar and must perform my daily task. You will find me,
when you return, grown old.
" The new government of France is very popular here, and
will be more so if they make a reasonable settlement of our
claims. Some of them are as just as ever claims were. If
the present ministry, like the late Court, persist in evading
them, they will keep alive much heartburning, which it is the
interest of both countries to terminate.
" The late elections in this State have terminated in favor
of General Jackson. The state of our parties is so singular
that it would be almost impossible to give you a clear idea of
them. There is one, however, called the Working Men's
Party, which, owing to our system of universal suffrage, is
like to become permanent and important. South Carolina
has been a little insane, but is recovering, Georgia has suc-
ceeded in bullying the General Government into an alliance
with her for the purpose of depriving the friendly Indians of
their lands. I am sorry for this, for I think it a measure
which will injure our national character.
J. I. ROOSEVELT, JR., TO MR. JAY
" I hope you will not delay your return to America for the
sake of beholding the revolutions of the Old World. Should
the tempest rage, you may behold it as comfortably seated on
the shore as if you were in the midst of the hurricane."
One of the early students in Mr. Peter A. Jay's law office,
and afterwards a partner, was Mr. James I. Roosevelt, Jr.
Retiring temporarily from professional life in 1830, he went
to Europe and was in Paris during the disturbancest hat fol-
lowed the revolution. He became subsequently a Justice of
the State Supreme Court, and still later United States District
Attorney for Southern New York. From Paris he writes to
" PARIS, Dec. 24, 1830.
" To Peter Augustus Jay ', Esq.
" You feel, no doubt, some interest in what is going on at
this place at the present moment. Last week everything was
apparently quiet. The trial of the ministers, although anx-
iously watched, proceeded with perfect calmness. I was
frequently in the neighborhood of the Luxembourg for the
express purpose of watching the movements as well of the
military as of the populace. To obtain admission I was told
was impossible. Every seat had been long previously enga-
ged. On Sunday morning last, however, I was so fortunate
as to receive a polite note from General La Fayette enclosing
a carte d* entree for the Ambassador's Box. As you may well
suppose, I immediately went, and remained the whole day.
Peyronnet was speaking as I entered. He appealed strongly,
PETER A. JAY
but I cannot say manfully, to the feelings of the court and the
audience. He was exceedingly agitated and frequently in
tears. Polignac and the two others seemed to be wrapt in
intense thought. After Peyronnet had finished his own per-
sonal explanations, which the court very properly, though
somewhat irregularly, allowed him to make, his counsel rose
and made as good an argument for his client as the case
would perhaps admit; but in point of eloquence he was com-
pletely eclipsed by a young advocate from Lyons who imme-
diately followed him in defence of Chantelauze. You will be
surprised to hear that in a case of life and death, and one,
undoubtedly, of the gravest that ever engaged the attention
of a court of justice, not only were the audience permitted,
but the peers even permitted themselves, frequently to clap
the speaker. On the ensuing day, it being understood that
the trial was drawing to a close, the people began to assemble
in the neighborhood of the Luxembourg. The court in con-
sequence determined to adjourn before dark. The next day,
Tuesday, having heard that there was a probability of trouble,
and wishing to see for myself the modus operand* of a French
revolution, in case another, as was apprehended, should
take place, I crossed the river again with Mr. Cooper (my
former clerk) and Mr. Hammersley. The whole population
seemed to be in the streets, and more than half of it in military
uniform. We pushed our way along until we came to the
St. Germain market. Here we soon heard the shouts of
what seemed a mob in one of the neighboring streets. The
gates of the market and the doors and windows of the shops
were instantly closed. In a few minutes the soverciffis came
J. I. ROOSEVELT, JR., TO MR. JAY
retreating into the square, with a troupe of soldiers charging
bayonets at their heels. No harm, however, was done, un-
less it might have been to the lungs of some of their majesties.
This scene being over, the market gates were reopened and
we issued forth in search of further adventures. But I find
I have no room for further descriptions. The result of all is
that the City of Paris, after exhibiting for four days the ap-
pearance of the camp of an immense army on the eve of battle,
is at length (Saturday) as quiet, to all appearance, and as or-
derly as New York itself. The agony, it is generally sup-
posed, is over, so far as France is concerned. In consequence
of the troubled state of Holland, which I intended to have
visited next, I am inclined to think I shall take a trip to Italy
in the course of two or three weeks, and leave my visit to the
land of my ancestors until spring.
" In England I was delighted. My friends there, parti-
cularly the two legal gentlemen engaged in the Wallis Estate,
were all kindness and attention, and, had it not been for the
death of a relation, would have joined me in my travels.
" In France I have found a great number of American ac-
quaintances, and my vanity has been in no small degree grati-
fied by the attention and, I may add, the retainers of La Fay-
ette. All this, however, cannot make me forget for a mo-
ment my relations and friends at home. The further I re-
move myself from them, the more strongly I become attached
to them. Even the strong excitement of a constantly occu-
pied curiosity cannot always keep from my mind the feeling
of loneliness which, in spite of all my efforts to get the better
of it, will at times come over me when I think of some of
PETER A. JAY
those I loved in New York, particularly yours and Mr. Clark-
son's families. There are no such domestic circles here.
One cause is sufficient: there is no religion in Paris. Re-
member me to Mrs. Jay, and believe me,
" Yours affectionately,
" JAMES I. ROOSEVELT, JR."
Mr. Roosevelt writes again, this time giving some account
of the discussion of the Reform Bill:
"LONDON, July 11, 1831.
" My dear Sir:
" Your kind letter was not received by me until a few days
ago; it had made a tour to Rome, thence back to Paris, and
from Paris to London. . . .
" The discussion, in Committee of the Whole, on the
* Reform Bill/ commenced last night. Although the even-
ing before, by the politeness of the Speaker, I was admitted
on the floor of the House, I thought it would be rather tres-
passing to ask the favor a second time, especially when so
many better entitled were necessarily excluded. I, therefore,
contented myself with listening to the Lords. Owing to an
expected sparring between Lord Londonderry and Lord
Plunket, the Upper House was unusually crowded. I find
these high dignitaries are quite as disorderly as the Members
of a certain Body of which I had once myself the honor of
forming a component part; and as to the House of Commons,
even a very loyal English gentleman, who sat alongside of
me the previous evening, observed, in reply to my remarks on
J. I. ROOSEVELT, JR., TO MR. JAY
the apparent confusion, that it was in truth a perfect bear-
garden. I think they act wisely in making little or no provi-
sion for the accommodation of spectators.
"Wednesday noon: My brother-in-law Mr. Ouseley has
just come in. He was in the House of Commons last night.
He says they did not adjourn till after seven this morning.
The Bill will, no doubt, pass that Body, but its fate in the
House of Lords is yet uncertain. Some new Peers are to be
created, but some say that seventy will be necessary. Every-
thing, externally, is as yet quiet; no crowds in the streets, nor
even in the vicinity of the Parliament House. Should the
Lords, however, reject the Bill, an explosion, I apprehend, is
" You may tell the ladies that we were at the celebrated
Almack's the other night, but saw nothing very extraordi-
nary, except Dom Pedro. A New York Assembly and an
Almack's Ball are pretty much alike.
" Yours most sincerely,
" JAMES I. ROOSEVELT, JR.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
The University at Cambridge sends Mr. Jay a diploma:
" HARVARD UNIVERSITY,
" CAMBRIDGE, September 24, 1831.
" My dear Sir :
" I have the honor to transmit a Diploma of the degree of
Doctor of Laws, conferred at the last meeting of the President
and Fellows of Harvard University, and avail myself of the
PETER A. JAY
occasion to express the happiness I feel at being the organ of
communicating this evidence of the respect entertained by
the overseers of this literary Seminary for your talents and
" I am, sir, with great respect,
" Your obed't servant,
" JOSIAH QUINCY,
' President of Harvard University.
" PETER A. JAY, LL.D."
Mr. Jay was the recipient of a similar honorary diploma
from Columbia College, New York, in 1835.
In the year 1831 he was made President of the Public
School Society, succeeding in office Henry Rutgers and De
Witt Clinton. His term of office embraced six years, from
1831 to 1837.
In the same year his services were sought by a committee,
representing the mercantile interests of New York, to attend
a convention, to be held in Philadelphia on September 30,
1831, which had in view the revision and reduction of the
tariff. The gentlemen who composed the committee were
Mr. Preserved Fish and Mr. Jonathan Goodhue.
On the 8th of November, 1831, a little more than two years
after Mary's marriage, her brother, John Clarkson Jay, was
married toMissLauraPrime,asisterof Mary's husband. Upon
the inheritance of the Rye Estate in 1843, after his father's
death, Mr. and Mrs. Jay made Rye their permanent residence.
The Cooper correspondence requires a word of explana-
tion. In a letter to Mr. Cooper, Mrs. Jay had requested him
MR. JAY TO J. FENIMORE COOPER
to exercise his taste when he visited Paris, and select for her a
wallpaper for her dining-room in the Broadway house. Mr.
Jay, in his letter, which is now given, corrects the false im-
pression which Mr. Cooper possessed that the choice was not
to Mrs. Jay's taste.
" NEW YORK, February 21, 1832.
"My dear Sir:
" I have just received your letter of the 2d January. It has
made me so heartily ashamed of myself that I sit down imme-
diately to answer it. You are mistaken about Mrs. Jay's
opinion of the paper, though I confess that her ungrateful
silence gave you a very plausible reason for supposing that it
was not to her taste. It was put up in the Fall, and is much
admired. She likes it much, and will thank you for it herself
as soon as she is able. At present she is sick with a bilious
remitting fever which has reduced her to a state of great
weakness. We apprehend no danger, but still she is quite
sick, though getting better.
" Some years ago, our Supreme Court being unable to get
through its business, a new court, called the Superior Court,
was established for this city. Mr. Samuel Jones is Chief
Justice, and Mess. J. Ogden Hoffman and T. J. Oakley the
other Judges. This Court sits every month, and though it
has proved very convenient to the merchants, it is excessively
annoying to the lawyers, who have no longer any vacation.
Three years ago we entered into an agreement to try no
causes in August, that we might have one month in the year
for relaxation. The first year I went to Niagara and returned
PETER A. JAY
through upper Canada, and the next year to Boston. Last
summer Mrs. Jay, Sarah and I went to Quebec. Basil Hall's
prejudices never appeared to me more ridiculous than when
I passed through upper Canada. In lower Canada the people
appeared to me much better off than I expected to find them.
There is much faction and discontent in both provinces. I
bought a great many of their pamphlets to learn, if I could,
something of their politics. On reading them, I could find
nothing to occasion so much excitement. Their Governors
are not always wise, but the policy of the English Govern-
ment has been conciliatory. The grievances of which they
complained are petty affairs, and I suspect the truth to be that
their ambitious men have no other way to distinguish them-
selves than by making a figure in the opposition. This very
circumstance will probably lead them, sooner or later, to in-
dependence. But they have little love for us, and I could
discover no desire to be incorporated in our Union. Another
cause of dissatisfaction is that the officers of the Army, of
whom there are many, entertain a sovereign contempt for the
Canadians and are at no pains to conceal it.
" In our domestic politics there is nothing remarkable.
General Jackson's re-election is considered as nearly certain.
It is mooted whether the rejection of Mr.VanBuren's appoint-
ment will do him more good or harm. I incline to the for-
mer opinion. His partisans are exerting themselves to make
him Vice-President. There is, however, a bitter hostility to
him at the South, which renders his success doubtful. In
Congress the only question in which the public take much
interest is the tariff. The revenue is more than is wanted,
MR. JAY TO J. FENIMORE COOPER
and to levy taxes solely to compel the Southerners to buy dear
of the Eastern manufacturers what they could buy cheap of
Europeans is revolting. All, therefore, agree that the duties
should be reduced, but they cannot agree in the mode of
reducing them; and, unfortunately, the Southern people are
so violent and unreasonable, and insist upon doctrines so in-
consistent with the powers of Congress and with the Union
of the States, that they drive from their standard very many
and very influential persons in the Middle and Eastern States
who would gladly rally round it.
" In Europe a dark cloud is hovering on the horizon.
When, or where, the storm will break I cannot foresee. But
it would be wonderful if the sky should clear up without a
storm. A spirit of discontent seems to pervade a great part
of that quarter of the world, and it is mingled with so much
rancor and malevolence that I look for its effects with as
much fear as hope. The present governments are, 1 sup-
pose, bad enough; but is there reason to expect that the revo-
lutionary governments which may succeed them will be bet-
ter? Is it not strange that, from the time of Charlemagne
till this day, France was never better governed than under
Louis XVIII. and Charles X.? They did right to dethrone
the latter for breaking the charter; but if they mean to break
it themselves and put to sea anew without knowing where
they shall land, they may find that they have gained little by
the glorious three days. I cannot think that a Republic can
stand in France.
" Your Dresden letter was very interesting and shows that
you possessed no small degree of prescience.
PETER A. JAY
" I thank you for your kind offer respecting the wine and
for the specimens you promise. I will speak to some of our
friends, and we shall probably trouble you to send us some.
Your health has often been drunk among us, and I promise
you it shall not be forgotten when every glass will remind us
of you. . . .
" Your c Bravo ' is greatly admired among us as well as in
Europe. Your new novels and your travels will all be
looked for anxiously and read with pleasure. Poor Sir Wal-
ter Scott! his last book made me sorrowful. I am glad to
hear such good news of our friend Morse. I believe he is a
worthy man as well as a good artist. I hear that Greenough
is to be employed to make a statue of Washington. The
exhibition of your cherubs has, I fear, brought him but little
money. It is surprising how few people here know or care
" I hear, from others as well as yourself, the most grati-
fying accounts of the Miss Coopers. . . .
" My sisters returned from Charleston without much chan-
ge in Mrs. Banyer's health. . . . She was pleased, as you
may suppose, by your kind expressions concerning her, and
she and Nancy often talk of you with much regard. In one
of your letters you complained of your countrymen. You
have really no reason. Your country is proud of you, and
nobody seems desirous in the least to lessen your fame
unless, perhaps, some of your brother authors who are jea-
lous. They write reviews. But the public read your books
and are pleased, and you need not trouble yourself about re-
views you are above them.
ACTIVITIES AS CHURCHMAN
" I hope that, long before this reaches you, Mrs. Cooper
will be restored to health. Be pleased to remember us all
most respectfully to her and the young ladies,
" Very truly yours,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" J. FENIMORE COOPER, Esq."
The kidnapping of negroes in the city had lately created no
little excitement, and Mr. Jay, now President of the Society
for the Manumission of Slaves, was invited by the Anti-
Slavery Society to co-operate with it to repress these iniqui-
Reference should be made here to Mr. Jay's activities as a
churchman. In his earlier life he had been a member of
Trinity Church and one of its vestrymen. In later years he
attended the Church of the Ascension, situated on the north
side of Canal Street between Broadway and Elm Street, of
which the Rev. Manton Eastburn, afterwards Bishop of Mas-
sachusetts, was rector. Here also Mr. Jay was vestryman.
Indeed, the establishment of this church for it formed a
new parish was the result, in no small degree, of the in-
fluence exerted by Mr. Jay and by his relatives and friends,
all of whom promoted its success by liberal contributions.
Besides his legal attainments, a wide practical knowledge
of affairs made Mr. Jay constantly the counsellor of his friends,
and Bishop Onderdonk frequently consulted him about mat-
ters pertaining to the diocese.
He was sent from the Church of the Ascension as a delegate
to the Diocesan Convention, and by that body as a Deputy
PETER A. JAY
to the General Convention. In the former convention in
1832 he was made a Trustee of the General Theological
Seminary, of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United
States, and also served on a committee to revise the canons
of the diocese. He was a member of both conventions on
several occasions, and took an active part in their delibera-
tions as well as in the work of the committees.
Towards the end of his life, in 1842, Mr. Jay was again
elected to the Vestry of Trinity Church.
In the autumn of 1832, New York was for the first time
visited by the Asiatic cholera. From June 25 until the middle
of September of the same year, there were 5,835 cases in the
city, and 2,996 deaths. On the 7th of August Mr. Jay writes
to his brother:
" I came to town yesterday to attend meetings of the trus-
tees of the College and governors of the Hospital and to see
to some business of my own. I shall return to Rye to-
morrow. Sister's house is safe, and her woman looks the
very picture of good health. Her garden is in pretty good
order. Mine is completely overgrown with weeds. Dr.
Stevens tells me he thinks the cholera is on the decline, and
that it will soon be as safe for prudent people to return to the
city as to remain in the country. At Philadelphia the disease
is spreading rapidly. Though there are fewer people in the
street than usual, yet the difference is much less than I had
expected to find it. I have, however, been scarcely out of
Broadway, thinking it prudent to expose myself to as little
risk as possible. Business of all kinds is interrupted, and
as multitudes will have expended their all, there will, I fear>
THE NEW YORK HOSPITAL
be a great deal of suffering next winter. We have enjoyed so
much prosperity, and have, I fear, abused it so much, that
this chastisement may be as useful as it is deserved. Many
will despise it, but I trust that many will lay it to heart."
A writer of this period says : " The conduct of the gentle-
men of the city in this time of distress was beyond all praise.
The New York Hospital, which then occupied its beautiful
grounds on Broadway between Reade and Duane streets, op-
posite the opening of Pearl Street, was under the manage-
ment of a board of governors, to belong to which was one of
the most esteemed honors of a New Yorker. Daily throug-
hout this season they attended personally to their voluntary
duties, and by their steadfastness greatly encouraged the suf-
Mr. Jay had been president of the New York Hospital
since 1827; but in the year 1833, finding that his avocations
were such that he could no longer perform his duty to the
Institution with convenience or in a manner satisfactory to
himself, he sent in his resignation to the governors. Mr.
Thomas Eddy preceded him in office as president, and Mr.
Jay's successor was Mr. George Newbold. As a member of
the board of governors, Mr. Jay had served the hospital since
1908, a period of twenty-four years. Soon after his resig-
nation, Mr. Newbold sent him the letters and resolution
which are given below:
PETER A. JAY
" NEW YORK HOSPITAL, June 8, 1833.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq.
" Dear Sir:
" I have the pleasure to hand you enclosed a copy of a
resolution unanimously adopted by the board of governors
of the New York Hospital at their meeting on Tuesday last,
expressing their thanks for your long and faithful services as
President of the Society, and I have the additional gratifi-
cation to request in behalf of the board that you will sit for
your portrait for the use of the Institution. Permit me, Sir,
to express the hope that you will be pleased to favor us by a
compliance with this request, and I shall be happy if you will
advise me accordingly.
" I am very respectfully
" and sincerely yours,
" GEO. NEWBOLD, Pres't.
" At a monthly meeting of the governors of the New York
Hospital held on Tuesday, the 4th day of June, 1833, it was.
" Resolved, that the thanks of this Board be presented to
Peter A. Jay, Esq., for his long and faithful services as Presi-
dent of the Society of the New York Hospital, and that the
President communicate the same and request Mr. Jay to sit
for his portrait for the use of this Institution.
" Extract from the minutes of the governors.
" For ROBERT J. MURRAY,
" JOHN W. STERLING,
" Clerk of the N. Y. Hospital.'*
THE NEW YORK HOSPITAL
" NEW YORK, June 8, 1833.
" Dear Sir:
" I have received your letter enclosing the resolution of the
governors of the New York Hospital, passed on the 4th inst.
Be pleased to assure them of the sensibility with which I
receive this mark of approbation, the sincere regard and es-
teem which I feel for each of them individually, and my un-
diminished attachment to the excellent Institution over which
they preside and accept, Sir, my acknowledgments for the
manner in which you have been pleased to communicate
" With great respect and regard,
" I am, dear Sir,
" Your obed't serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" GEO. NEWBOLD, Esq."
"NEW YORK, June 11, 1833.
" I am pleased to believe that you will afford the governors
of the New York Hospital the opportunity to obtain your
portrait for the use of the Institution; and wishing to employ
the artist to take it that may be most agreeable to yourself, I
will esteem it a favor if you will inform me who you prefer.
" With great regard I am, dear Sir,
" Very sincerely yours,
" GEORGE NEWBOLD.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
PETER A. JAY
The portrait was painted by A. B. Durand, and a copy has
lately been made and presented, at its request, to the New
York Historical Society. From this picture the plate is taken
which appears in this volume.
On account of continued indifferent health and to escape
the inclemency of the climate at home, Mrs. Banyer and her
sister Miss Ann Jay spent the winter of 1833 at Santa Cruz.
Mrs. Banyer writes to her brother:
" SANTA CRUZ, January 25, 1833.
" My very dear Brother :
" We were truly rejoiced to receive so many letters by the
Buenos Ayres and heartily thank one and all of the dear friends
who conferred on us the greatest pleasure we can enjoy while
absent from them. . . .
" You were not forgotten, dear brother, at the season for
mutual gratulation and kind wishes, which were again felt,
though they could not be expressed, on your birthday.
Long may your precious life be spared to bless, as you have
ever done, all around you; and, finally, may our beloved
father's wish be fulfilled to meet all his children in Heaven.
" We are seriously concerned for the fate of the Union;
though Carolina cannot do much harm to other States in any
other way, it is no small injury to disturb the harmony of our
happy confederacy, and may lead to trouble. I sincerely pity
the minority in that unhappy State. . . .
" The Governor here gives a grand ball next week in honor
of the King's birthday. . . . The Governor is a perfect
Viceroy, and I am told the Government House vies with the
AS BOUNDARY COMMISSIONER
Palace at Copenhagen. Every one wonders that we can
decline his invitation to the ball. An invitation to one of his
subjects is considered as a command; happily, we are Repu-
blicans, free and independent. He was so polite as to send
his Secretary to say that he would send his carriage for us.
His salary amounts to $ 50,000 a year. . . .
" I am, my very dear brother,
" Yours most affec'y,
" M. BANTER.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq.,
" New York."
In the spring of 1833, Mr. Jay was appointed by Governor
Marcy one of three commissioners from New York State to
settle the boundary between New Jersey and New York.
The letter of appointment is given below:
" ALBANY, March 5, 1833.
" By an Act passed at the present session of the Legislature
it is made my duty to appoint three Commissioners to meet a
similar number from the State of New Jersey to settle the
controversy between that State and New York in relation to
the boundary and jurisdiction of them. The importance of
the duty to be performed has induced me to consider well the
qualifications which the Commissioners should possess, and
to feel a solicitude to select persons who have them in the
highest degree. Various considerations, to which I need not
allude, induce to wish that you would consent to act as one of
them. I offer you the appointment and shall be gratified to
PETER A. JAY
learn that you are willing to accept it. Mr. Butler will be
one of your associates. I have not fully determined to whom
I shall offer the other appointment.
" I have received information from the Executive of New
Jersey that Mr. Frelinghuysen, now in the United States
Senate; Mr. Elmer, now or lately Attorney-General of that
State; and Mr. Parker, of Perth Amboy, have been selected
Commissioners for New Jersey.
" I should be pleased to be informed of your determination
on this subject at as early a day as it will be convenient for you
to make it known to me.
" I am, with great respect,
" Your obed't serv't,
" W. L. MARCT.
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
Mr. Jay replied with the following letter of acceptance:
"NEW YORK, March 9, 1833.
" I have received your letter of the 5th inst., and cannot
but be flattered by the offer it contains and the manner in
which it is conveyed. If you think that I can be useful as one
of the Commissioners to meet those of New Jersey, I will
accept the appointment. I could not have a colleague more
agreeable than Mr. Butler.
" I am, Sir, with great respect,
" Your very obed't serv't,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Governor MARCY."
AS BOUNDARY COMMISSIONER
Henry Seymour was the thkd commissioner appointed by
the Governor. Soon after his appointment, Mr. Benjamin
F. Butler wrote to Mr. Jay in regard to the various matters to
be discussed by the commission, and concluded by saying:
" In arranging these details, we shall very greatly rely on your
superior knowledge of what is due to the commerce, health,
police and improvements of your city, all which are to be care-
fully considered in the propositions we may submitorreceive."
After numerous sessions held during the summer of 1833,
an agreement was made and entered into by the joint com-
missioners, on September 16, defining in particular and with
the minutest detail the boundary line between New Jersey
and New York, the rights of property and exclusive jurisdic-
tion of each State, etc. This agreement was confirmed by
the Legislatures of the two States in February, 1834, and
approved by Act of Congress, June 28, 1834.
Mr. Sedgwick, having finished his " Memoir of Governor
Livingston," sends, with a copy of the book, his acknow-
" NEW YORK, March 31, 1833.
" My dear Sir:
" With this you will receive a copy of the ' Memoir of
Governor Livingston.' Allow me once more to thank you
for the assistance you have so obligingly furnished me in this
undertaking, and to assure you of the respect and regard
" I am your most faithful servant,
" THEODORE SEDGWICK, JR.
: P. A. JAY, Esq.,
" New York."
PETER A. JAY
Mr. Sedgwick's father, Theodore Sedgwick, was the emi-
nent jurist whose opinions, as Judge, were remarkable for
clearness of expression and elegance of diction. He married
Mr. Jay's first cousin, Miss Susan Ridley, a granddaughter of
Governor William Livingston.
Again Mr. Jay writes to Mr. Cooper, now but a short time
before his return from his long residence abroad:
" NEW YORK, May 14, 1833.
" Having repeatedly heard you were coming home this
Spring, I have doubted whether letters would reach you; but
Miss Martha de Lancey, who was here this evening, tells me
that your return will be delayed till autumn. . . .
" My brother William has just published a Life of my
father, which I would send you if I knew how. Having
commenced author, he must expect critism. I hope he will
wince under it less than you do.
" I have seen a beautiful picture by your daughter. Sarah
knew Miss Susan's portrait immediately. ... It would really
do credit to any artist. . . .
" We saw a good deal of the Marquis C. Torrigiani, who
brought a letter from you. He is a modest, well-informed
young man, a liberal in his politics, and is much pleased with
New York. He has gone South. He seemed astonished at
the absence of beggars and soldiers, and at the immense busi-
ness which is doing here. . . . This city has become the
great pkce of import for the whole Union. It has, I believe,
MR. JAY TO J. FENIMORE COOPER
very nearly doubled since you have been in Europe; its po-
pulation cannot, I think, be less than 220,000, besides Brook-
lyn, which contains 12,000.
" If we can but remain united for another generation, this
country will become a power which the Europeans will cease
to sneer at, though they may not cease to dislike us. The
storm from Carolina has passed over with much thunder, but
little damage. There is, however, a very bad spirit remain-
ing in that State; and Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia
are partially infected with it. The agitators are exerting
themselves to create discord and break up the Union. This
was to be expected, because nothing but agitation can pre-
serve their influence. A separation might make them little
Kings or Dictators. Concord and content will be fatal to
them. The conduct of the President in relation to the Caro-
lina affair was, I think, firm, temperate and wise, and might
atone for many errors. It was unexpected because very dif-
ferent from the spirit of his proceedings respecting Georgia.
Our governments often play the fool, and I suppose are not
more honest than those in other parts of the world; yet, with
all their faults, we are the freest and most prosperous people
on the globe, and ought to be abundantly more thankful than
we are for the blessings we receive from a beneficent Provi-
" Mrs. Jay begs you to accept her thanks for the beautiful
box you sent her by Mr. Thorne. She and all the family beg
to be remembered to you, Mrs. Cooper and the young ladies
and gentleman. . . .
" When shall we see * The Headsman of Berne '?
PETER A. JAY
" Believe me, my dear sir, with sincere regard,
" Your friend and servant,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
"J.F. COOPER, Esq."
In the earlier pages of this volume Mr. Jay has given us his
experiences of travel in boats propelled by steam soon after
their introduction on the Hudson. An opportunity now
presents itself of learning from Mrs. Jay and Mr. William Jay
their experiences of railway travelling with a locomotive.
Mrs. Jay goes in the spring of 1833 to Philadelphia, Balti-
more and Washington, and in her letter to her husband says :
" So far our journey has been very agreeable. The sail, if
I may so call it, was very pleasant. We had a fair breeze, and
the views on each side the river are pretty. At half-past
twelve we entered the cars on the Railroad there were five,
with about twenty-four persons in each. The baggage on
board the boat was put into immense trays and slung by
machinery in the cars appropriated for it. It remains in these
cars until put in the cart at Philadelphia; so that you have no
care of it from the time you see it put in the tray. The road
from Amboy to Bordentown is uninteresting, with few ex-
ceptions, until you come to the last ten miles, which is
through a very pretty country. Joseph Bonaparte's house
and grounds are very pretty, and I recognized, with many
agreeable observations, the waters of the Delaware, upon
which I had floated so often in early life. The views along
the river are confined, on account of the country being so
flat; but the little towns and country-seats are beautifully in-
EARLY RAILWAY TRAVELLING
tcrspersed among the clustering trees. You would not sup-
pose you were approaching a large city in coming here by
water. You see no masts crowding the wharves, and no
spires of churches, but a dull level, as flat as possible. We
arrived at seven, and walked to the United States Hotel,
where we were at first told we could not be accommodated;
but after hearing who we were our informant said he would
try and make us comfortable. We have excellent separate
rooms, with a large private parlor. Only think how cheap
travelling is to his place! I have only paid for Helen and
myself seven dollars, meals included/'
The next day, the 20th, Mrs. Jay writes from Baltimore
that in Philadelphia she had been to Mr. Bedell's church, but
heard Mr. Renshaw. The Messrs. Norris, Newbold, Fisher
and the de Lanceys had called; and she adds : " This morning
we got up early and went on board the Robert Morris, an ex-
cellent steamboat; passed Chester and Wilmington, and at
Newcastle took the Railroad the cars drawn by a locomotive
engine. We went sixteen miles an hourl most delightfully,
without the least fear. I think there were eight or ten cars.
We had a car for our party, and it really was almost the same
as if we had been sitting in a steamboat. Going so rapidly
produced a delightful breeze, which inspirited us all, and we
enjoyed our ride exceedingly. We all got to Frenchtown
too soon, when we went immediately on board the steamboat
on the Elk River and entered the Chesapeake Bay, which is
very wide, and in some directions the land is not visible; but
as soon as you enter the Patapsco River the scenery changes.
We then went on the upper deck and viewed with pleasure
PETER A. JAY
the approach to Baltimore, which is beautiful. I only won-
der I have not heard it mentioned before. We determined
to proceed immediately to Washington, and all got in a stage,
when it commenced to rain, and continued to rain as hard as
it could pour; so we changed our mind and went to the hotel.
While on board the steamboat, the Norfolk boat passed and
took off the passengers for that place; so that if a person felt
inclined to go there from New York, he could leave that city
on Monday morning and be in Norfolk on Wednesday mor-
ning, without the slightest fatigue and very little expense.
My dear husband, you must take this jaunt. I am sure you
would be pleased, everything is so new and the travelling is
like magic. . . ." The party soon went to Washington for
a few days, and were introduced to the President (Andrew
Jackson). The letter continues : " I was very agreeably dis-
appointed with his appearance, which is really like that of a
gentleman of the old school. His health is very feeble."
Mr. William Jay writes from Saratoga in the summer of
the same year (1833) to his brother:
" We have just returned from a ride to Ballston on the
Railway. It is an expeditious mode of travelling, but for
pleasure I prefer a coach and four on a good turnpike. We
set off in a train of eight cars, each containing seats for eigh-
teen persons, together with three heavy baggage-wagons.
The momentum of such a mass moving with the velocity of
nearly twenty miles an hour is, indeed, fearful, and your una-
voidable reflections on the tremendous crash that would fol-
low the breaking of a wheel axle are far from pleasant. The
rattling of fifty iron wheels renders conversation difficult, and
EARLY RAILWAY TRAVELLING
the smell and smoke of the engine are frequently offensive.
Add to all this an incessant tremulous motion, which, without
jolting, agitates every part of the body, and you have an idea
of railway travelling."
This same year (1833), on the 23d of September, Mr. Peter
Jay Munro died. He was, as we have already seen, a former
law partner of Mr. Jay and his first cousin.
Mr. Munro was the only child of Rev. Dr. Harry Munro
by his wife, Eve Jay, and was born January 10, 1767. At the
age of thirteen he was taken by his uncle, Mr. Jay, on the
latter's mission to Spain. On his return with Mr. Jay, he
studied law in the office of Aaron Burr, subsequently repre-
senting Westchester (in 1814 15) in the State Assembly and
(in 1 821) in the Constitutional Convention. He gained lucra-
tive practice and prominence as a lawyer, but in 1826 paralysis
disqualified him for further active business, and the residue
of his life was spent in retirement. His wife was Margaret,
the third daughter of the Hon. Henry White, of the Gover-
nor's Council of New York. Mrs. Henry White was Eve
Van Cortlandt, a daughter of Frederick Van Cortlandt and
Frances Jay of Yonkers. Twelve children were born to Mr.
and Mrs. Munro four sons and eight daughters. Henry
married Anne Margaret Bayley, and he alone of all the sons
had issue. Frances married Bishop de Lancey. Harriet be-
came the wife of Augustus Frederick Morris (afterwards Van
Cortlandt), great-grandson of Frederick Van Cortlandt and
Frances Jay. Anne Maria became Mrs. Elias Desbrosses
Hunter, and Sarah Jay became Mrs. Asa Whitney. All of Mr.
Munro's married daughters had issue except Mrs. Whitney*
PETER A. JAY
Mr. and Mrs. Jay were very hospitable; their parlors in the
Broadway house were constantly filled with friends. Their
dinners were functions of more than usual interest. At such
times the guests had an opportunity of listening to the bril-
liant conversation of many who had large and varied expe-
riences and were delightful in their way of relating them.
There is a list extant, though unfortunately without date,
which refers to a dinner given by Mr. Jay to which the fol-
lowing gentlemen were invited : The Mayor, Mr. Philip Hone,
Mr. Philip Schuyler, Mr. Washington Irving, Mr. William
Jay, Mr. Walter Smith of Baltimore, Mr. J. Fenimore Cooper,
Mr. Donaldson, Mr. Gaston of North Carolina, Mr. Robert
Ray, Commodore Ridgely, Mr. James Lenox, Mr. Jonathan
Goodhue, Mr. Peter Schermerhorn, Chancellor Kent, Mr.
Peter G. Stuyvesant, Mr. G. M. Wilkins, Mr. Philip Van Rens-
selaer, Rev. Dr. Wainwright, Mr. David S. Jones, Mr. Daniel
Webster, Mr. Herman Leroy, Mr. William P. Van Rensselaer,
Mr. Campbell P. White, Mr. Joseph White of Baltimore, Mr.
O'Donnell of Baltimore, Mr. Albert Gallatin, Dr. J. Augus-
tine Smith, Mr. J. de Peyster Ogden, Commodore Chauncey,
Mr. Rufus Prime, Mr. Prime, Mr. Gilmore of Baltimore.
Records also exist of another dinner at which Mr. Jay had
for his guests all the bishops comprising the House of Bishops
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, then in session in the
city; and from numerous other records in the same note-book,
all without dates, are lists of names of the persons present at
dinners, balls and evening parties. We give but one other
list these were the guests at a tea-party : Mr. Clement Moore,
Rev. Dr. Bethune, General Robert White, Mr. Robert Em-
MRS. PETER A. JAY
met, Mr. Theodore Sedgwick, Mr. and Mrs. Charles King
and daughters, Mr. William P. Van Rensselaer, Rev. Dr. and
Mrs. Wainwright, Mr. J. Laurie, Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt,
Messrs, de Peyster, Mr. D. J. Costar, Colonel Trumbull, Mr.
and Mrs. Robert Lenox, Messrs. Hamersley, Chancellor and
Mrs. Kent, Mr. and Mrs, Archibald Gracie, Rev. Dr. and
Mrs. Berrian, Mr, Merideth, Mr. and Mrs. W. Beach Law-
rence, Dr. and Mrs. Delafield, Colonel and Mrs. Fish, Misses
Livingston, Mr. Philip Schuyler, Miss Huger, Mr. and Mrs.
Donaldson, Mr. and Mrs. James P. Van Home, Bishop and
Mrs. Onderdonk, Mr. S. F. B. Morse, Mr. and Mrs. G. M.
Wilkins, Mr. Kemble, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Morris, Messrs.
Coit, Mr. Stephen C. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Leroy,
Miss Douglass, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Schermerhorn, Mr. and
Mrs. William Seton, Mr. Hamilton Fish, Miss Edgar, Mr.
Newbold, Dr. and Mrs. Stevens, Mr. and Mrs. James King,
Mr. and Mrs. Bard, Messrs. Rutherfurd, Mr. and Mrs. Led-
yard, Misses de Lancey, Mr. Bowdoin, Rev. Dr. Muhlenberg,
Mr. William Dawson, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Laight, Mr. and
Mrs. Heyward, Mr. Otis, Dr. J. Augustine Smith and daugh-
ter, Mr. Corbin, Dr. Wilkes.
The list comprises, besides other members of the above
families, members also of the families following:
The Constables, McVickars, Joneses, Bakers, Rogerses,
Palmers, Carys, Montgomerys, Primes, Philipses, Kearneys,
Wattses, Thompsons, Cuttings, Wilsons, Davises, Callenders,
Crugers, Wellses, Posts, Piersons, Hoffmans, Goelets, Fords,
Bayleys, Lows, Dorrs, Stoughtons, Baldwins, Van Wagenens,
Winthrops, Brunells, Oppenheimers.
PETER A. JAY
The death of Mrs. Prime, which occurred on September 9,
1835, at her husband's residence, Hell Gate, was the first
death in the home circle, and a severe affliction. When
Mary was only thirteen, Mrs. Banyer wrote to her brother:
" Your daughter Mary, as Papa often says, * is one of a thou-
sand.* If her principles and good sense were not equal to her
beauty and accomplishments, I should almost tremble for her;
but I delight to contemplate the loveliness of her person and
the endowments of her mind deriving increased lustre from
her virtue and piety." These qualities were still further de-
veloped in her womanhood, making her a great favorite in
Mrs. Jay, already feeble in health, never recovered from
the sorrow which the death of her daughter produced; and,
indeed, it was thought that this sorrow tended to increase her
feebleness and, perhaps, to accelerate the pulmonary trouble
with which she was threatened. Mr. Jay, in a letter to his
sister, Mrs. Banyer, said: " There is no love so strong as a
mother's, and my wife suffers more than any one else "; then
he adds: "We have infinite cause for thanksgiving, and
though we cannot but feel the smart, it would be impious to
December of this year (1835) was one of the coldest known
for many years. On the sixteenth day of the month occurred
a fire which for its extent and destructiveness will ever be
memorable in the annals of the city. All the lower portion
of New York was enveloped in flames. Six hundred and
fifty buildings, involving a loss of eighteen millions of dollars,
were destroyed before the conflagration could be arrested.
GREAT FIRE IN NEW YORK
All business was paralyzed. Insurance companies could not
meet their obligations, and in the next year the banks suspen-
ded specie payments. The effect of this calamity was felt in
business circles for many years.
Every family shared more or less in the losses which this
ruin had created, yet two projected marriages in Mr. Jay's
family took place notwithstanding. On the day after the out-
break of the fire (December 17, 1835), Catherine Helena was
married to Dr. Henry A. Du Bois; and two months later,
February 11, 1836, her sister Sarah married William Dawson.
Mr. Jay had now made the house at Rye his summer resi-
dence for many years, and under his direction and the taste of
his wife the place had been greatly improved. Its farm-like
character had given way to great rural beauty; fences were
removed and haw-haws, when necessary, were substituted for
them; fields of grain or stubble, under the skilful hand of the
gardener, were succeeded by a lawn of luxuriant verdure, un-
dulating and reaching to the water's edge. To a pleasing
landscape, trees of various kinds were planted, between which
glimpses could be had of the Sound and the shores beyond.
The house itself had undergone but little change it was still
a long, low building of two stories with its gables and chim-
neys; its rooms were numerous, but small, and the ceilings
low. The house and the piazza on the eastern front were
eighty feet in length; it was a picturesque, but not an impos-
ing structure. There were two doors of entrance, one on
the east side and the other on the west; each was divided into
two parts the upper part could be opened while the lower
part remained closed. The sitting-room was in the north
PETER A. JAY
end of the house, having three windows opening towards the
Sound and one towards the road. In this room some of the
family with their guests were constantly gathered, for the
house was nearly always full of company; and during those
drear and anxious days of the cholera season in New York,
in 1832, a little paper known as " The Rye Budget " was im-
provised by the guests, which contained, in prose and verse,
comic and tragic, the inspiration of young and old, and to
which Mr. Jay himself was an occasional contributor.
Already plans were being considered and arrangements
making for removing the old house and building a new one
on the same site. The plan proposed was a structure of
wood having a front of about eighty feet, with a projecting
portico supported by columns on the side nearest to the ap-
proach from the road, and a spacious veranda on the Sound
side. This plan was finally adopted.
Mrs. Banyer is again away from home; she is now in Eng-
land, and always finds in her brother Peter a ready correspon-
dent. This letter makes reference to the sufferings still felt as
the result of the great fire :
" NEW YORK, March 30, 1837.
" My dear Sister :
" . . . The commercial embarrassments are greater than
I have ever known them. Many who have speculated in
land will be ruined. The credit of merchants has suffered,
and much alarm prevails. ... A son of Lady Hayes has
arrived here, but I have not yet seen him. . . . Our last ac-
counts from Frederick [Prime] are of the 9th February. He
MR. JAY TO MRS. BANYER
was then at Rome, but meant soon to leave it, and expected
to be in England in April or May, where I hope he will find
you out and see you. His health and spirits have impro-
ved. ... I am surprised to hear that Mr. Wilberforce's
sons are very High Churchmen. It has appeared to me, for
many years, that the English High Church clergy were under-
mining the foundations of their own Church. Instead of
adapting the Establishment to the altered circumstances of
the country, they have, to every ancient regulation and even
to every abuse, taken pains to irritate the dissenters, who al-
ready form a large number of the nation, and who, if different
measures are not pursued, will become the majority. While
the population of the Kingdom has doubled, the number of
churches has scarcely been increased. A Presbyterian may
erect a Meeting House and collect a congregation at pleasure,
but a clergyman of the Church may do nothing of the kind.
Neither can a new parish be established, unless with the
greatest difficulty, lest the tithes of the actual Rector should
be diminished; so that a large portion of the people are exclu-
ded from the churches and must go to Meeting or not wor-
ship at all. If they prefer the former, they are railed at as
schismatics. The right of patronage or of appointing Min-
isters for distant congregations is openly sold and is bought
as a provision for younger sons. Of course, improper per-
sons are often introduced into the Church, and there can be
but little sympathy between the pastors and their flocks.
Many reforms are, I believe, necessary; and I believe, too,
that they will be made, but I could have wished them made
by the friends and not by the enemies of the Church. What-
PETER A. JAY
ever of this kind is done by its enemies is generally done in a
manner and spirit not calculated to conciliate. I trust, how-
ever, that its present troubles will tend to purify and finally to
strengthen the Church of England, which, with all its faults,
is, I believe, the best in Europe. . . .
" Your affectionate brother,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Mrs. BANYER,
" 76 Morland Place,
" Southampton, England."
It was now the year 1838, and the new house at Rye was
finished and furnished and the family had moved into it.
Mr. Jay was now sixty-two years old. Mrs. Jay's health had
not improved, and fears were entertained that her disease an
affection of the lungs was making progress. To endeavor
to arrest this progress if possible, at least, to secure some
amelioration of the symptoms which attended her illness, it
was determined, upon the advice of her physician, that she
should spend the winter on the island of Madeira.
There were few vessels trading between the island and
New York, and none at this particular time. Through the
agency of his son-in-law, Mr. William Dawson, a merchant in
the city, the Whitmore was chartered by Mr. Jay; and as soon
as the necessary preparations could be made the family em-
barked. The party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Jay; a maid,
Kitty Cassidy ; Dr. and Mrs. Du Bois and their son Cornelius ;
and Mrs. Du Bois's sisters, Anna Mark and Matilda, all
three being daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Jay. Besides a few
ARRIVAL AT FUNCHAL
others, they had for fellow passengers Mr, Eugene Livingston
and his two unmarried sisters, Margaret and Matilda, the
latter also an invalid.
They left New York on the 25th of September, and after
an unpleasant voyage of thirty-eight days arrived at Funchal,
the port of Madeira, on the 2d of November. " We had,"
said Mr, Jay, " almost continually a heavy swell, and fre-
quently squalls, so that the ship rolled excessively. On the
18th of October we lost our foretopmast, which went over
the side, and in its fall broke off the head of the foremast and
the head of the maintopmast, A jury topmast was got up in
a couple of days, but we could not afterwards carry topgal-
The city of Funchal had no harbor not even a wharf or
quay. The ship lay half a mile from the shore, and a landing
had to be made in a small boat through the surf which broke
upon a pebbly beach. " Mrs. Jay was lowered into the boat
in a chair swung on the yardarm," continued Mr. Jay.
" When we approached the shore the boat was turned round
and pushed stern foremost through the surf, and then the
boatmen, jumping out, drew her a little way on the beach.
A rope was instantly fastened to the stern, by which a yoke of
oxen drew her high and dry."
A furnished house, called a quinta, or country house, pleas-
antly situated just outside of the city, had been rented for
their use. A small garden, full of flowers, was attached to it.
From the west windows of the drawing-room the city, the sea,
and the vessels in the roadstead could be seen; also, the Loo
Rock, crowned with a castle. This view, which included the
PETER A. JAY
mountains opposite, was rendered still more attractive by the
sunsets. Mrs. Jay from her wheel chair would sit and gaze
upon the magnificent spectacle until the last tint had faded
from the sky.
The letters state that during the first fortnight after her
arrival, Mrs. Jay's symptoms were more favorable, inspiring
her and even the doctor with hope. Occasionally she would
go out in a palanquin, there being no wheel-carriages on the
island. Her improvement, however, was but temporary; her
strength continued to diminish, the disease increased rapidly,
and by the middle of December all hope of recovery had been
lost. Though realizing her condition, her spirits never failed
she was cheerful to the last. In reply to questions put to
her, she would say that she had not the slightest fear of death.
Until a few hours before she died, her mind remained per-
fectly clear and strong. Her death occurred on the day
before Christmas, about half-past two in the morning. The
remains were brought home, and the interment was made in
the Jay cemetery at Rye on April 30, 1839, a few only of the
near relatives being present.
Mr. Jay had at no time indulged the sanguine hopes that
were held by other members of the family; he was therefore,
as he writes, looking forward to the result with much anxiety.
After all was over, he wrote to his wife's uncle, Mr. Ruther-
furd: " My fears that the experiment had been made in vain
have been verified."
The Livingstons were neighbors of the Jays at Funchal.
Matilda Livingston's health failed to improve, and, like Mrs.
Jay, she did not live to go home.
HIS DESCRIPTION OF MADEIRA
An immediate return to New York proved impracticable.
Mrs. Du Bois had just given birth to a son, and there was no
vessel to facilitate the home trip. Mr. Jay, moreover, was
During the four months and upwards of the residence of
the family at Funchal they found the climate pleasant. Of
the common people Mr. Jay writes: " They were remarkably
civil and even ceremonious to one another, as well as to their
superiors. They had received no education, and could nei-
ther write nor read. They were a good-humored, light-
hearted race. We heard of no murders, or robberies, or
riots, or offences accompanied with violence. But cheating
and lying are so much matters of course that their detection
occasions no shame. The cabins of the peasants were about
ten or twelve feet square. The walls were of stone, without
mortar, six feet high, and thatched. They have no chimneys,
and often no windows, and the floor was of earth. They
were dirty within, but the ground around them was kept neat
and almost always contained flowers."
Mr. Jay thought " the Romish religion had become im-
becile; no one seemed to care anything about it; even its
forms were not observed. There was no preaching in the
churches, except on particular occasions. No jealousy of the
Protestant religion seemed to exist, nor any curiosity about
it." When he applied for seats in the English chapel, he was
referred to a Roman Catholic, who went with him to the
church, showed him the vacant seats, and agreed with him
for the rent. The sexton was a Roman Catholic. The gov-
ernment collected the tithes and undertook to support the
PETER A. JAY
clergy, but they were wretchedly paid. Many churches were
closed, but open churches were very numerous, some of them
large, but none handsome.
Of the island Mr. Jay wrote, describing the ascent of one
of the mountains : " I said that we saw the sea, but in truth
we looked down on white, fleecy clouds which covered the
sea, unless where an occasional opening allowed us to per-
ceive the dark waters of the ocean. Over our heads the sky
was perfectly clear, and of a light, deep blue. We were 5500
feet above the sea. The clouds I have mentioned filled the
bottoms of the ravines and the Curral into which we looked
down. The prospect was irregular and grand. We were
now in the centre of what seems to have been the principal
theatre of the convulsions and fiery eruptions by which this
island has probably been formed, and were impressed with
the astonishing power of the tremendous agents which had
been at work. The rent and shattered mountains cloven by
abysses, apparently bottomless, the rocks cracked and the
earth parched by fire, large tracts sunk down and peaks thrust
up thousands of feet into the air, reminded one of that day
when the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The scene
of itself was exceedingly grand, and by the ideas which it
suggested became sublime and even awful."
The island, only thirty-two miles long, is an irregular mass
of mountains divided by immensely deep and precipitous
ravines. It is traversed by zigzag roads, making easier ap-
proaches to distant places practicable, though requiring much
time in accomplishment.
The time at length arrived for a vessel to sail, and the Jays,
MR. JAY TO JUDGE JONES
accompanied by the Livingstons, embarked on the Mexican
on March 16, 1839, and arrived at New York after an unevent-
ful voyage of thirty-six days.
Hearing of his brother's arrival, Mr. William Jay writes:
" BEDFORD, April 24, 1839.
" Dear Peter:
" A letter from Augusta received last evening informed
me of your arrival. I shall hasten to town as soon as possible
to see you.
" You return with many painful recollections, but you
have also many present blessings, and there are many, I trust,
still in reserve for you. Your trial has been great, and so
also has been your consolation.
" I am, dear Peter,
" Your very affectionate Brother,
" PETER A. JAY, Esq."
Mr. Jay was at this time in New York, as we see by the
following letter, but was preparing to go into the country.
He is writing to his old and much valued friend, Judge Jones,
begging him and Mrs. Jones to make him a visit at Rye. Mr.
Jones was a man of pure and lofty feeling, of refined charac-
ter, and of warm, generous affections. Mrs. Jones was the
eldest daughter of De Witt Clinton.
" NEW YORK, May 30, 1830.
" Dear Jones :
"... I don't know when I shall be able to comply with
PETER A. JAY
your kind invitation. I have not yet been to see my brother*
Next week my children will all be collected around me at Rye,
and I meant, as soon as we were settled there, to entreat you
and Mrs. Jones to pass some time with us. As soon as pos-
sible after next week do come. Alas! she for whose sake,
principally, I have been building and improving, and who
would have delighted to welcome you both, and in her you
have lost a sincere friend, is not there. But my daughters
will endeavor to make it agreeable to you. I take a melan-
choly pleasure in recollecting an excursion to Montauk.
Happy is it that we cannot penetrate the future. How it
would have poisoned my enjoyment if I had then foreseen
that in a few months I should behold the commencement of
that disease which was to prove so fatal! But I shall not
trouble you with my unavailing regrets. As my old friends
drop off, I value the more those who remain; for new ac-
quaintances, however estimable, cannot supply the places of
those who were the companions of our youth. When I
observe how few of these survive, I am reminded of an ob-
servation in one of my father's letters, that * as we are here
mere birds of passage, this is not the place to build our nests/
But I won't preach. Come and see me, and you shall find
that I can still be a cheerful companion.
" I am sorry to hear that Mrs. Jones has been indisposed.
I trust that her health is now restored. Remember me to her
very respectfully, and believe me, dear Jones,
" Very sincerely your friend,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" D. S. JONES, Esq."
MR. JAY TO JUDGE JONES
Mr. Jay returned to the city from Rye for the winter. He
was broken in spirit, but resumed his law practice, and among
other avocations took up his duties as Chairman of the Board
of Trustees of Columbia College and as Trustee of the Gen-
eral Theological Seminary.
Another letter to his friend Judge Jones, however, intim-
ated that the pursuit of his profession would probably not be
of very long continuance :
" NEW YORK, December 3, 1839.
" Dear Jones :
" I have received your letter of the 29th ulto. ... I have
not yet decided to give up my office, and think I shall keep it
" The times are indeed out of joint. . . . Should you re-
turn to your profession, you must not be disappointed or
discouraged if you find it less profitable than formerly. Bus-
iness abandoned, like water spilt, is very difficult to gather
again. However, I cannot but think that commercial affairs
will, in the course of another year, assume a better aspect, that
money will be more plenty, and that the value of property
will again increase.
"... You know my father's old maxim, Prepare for the
worst, but hope for the best/ I have always practised at
least the last part of this apothegm. Hope, if it had no other
advantage, is a much more agreeable inmate than despon-
dency, and is, besides, ranked by St. Paul as one of the three
great Christian virtues.
" I hope and trust that Mrs. Jones is recovering her health,
PETER A. JAY
and that next spring I shall have the pleasure of seeing you
both at Rye.
" Be pleased to remember me to her very particularly and
" I am, dear Jones,
" Yours truly,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" D. S. JONES, Esq."
Mr. Jay's reminiscences of his father always make most
pleasant reading. The late Master of the Temple in London
said : " We cannot afford to forget the great and good men
who have lived among us." Some of these reminiscences
are recorded in a letter to William Jay:
" I have often thought that the harmony which subsisted
in our family has been one of the greatest blessings we have
enjoyed, and I have felt this the more sensibly from seeing
the dissensions which have divided others. . . .
" Our father's character will always be more admired in
proportion as it is understood and considered. It was for-
med principally by a judgment uncommonly strong, an in-
flexible resolution to do what he believed to be right, a tender
heart and warm affection, which, under the influences of
Christianity, filled him with love to God and man, without
blinding him to the corruption of human nature, or the frail-
ties of individuals, of which he was an admirable judge."
The Presidential campaign of the summer and autumn of
1840 was one of intense excitement throughout the country.
Martin Van Buren was nominated for re-election by the
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1840
Democrats, while the Whigs nominated General William H.
Harrison. One notable feature of the campaign was the
great number of mass meetings held, and the use, to an extent
hitherto unknown, of songs, banners and devices of every
kind and description in the processions.
Mr. Jay took a great interest in the canvass, and on several
occasions spoke to help promote the success of the Whig
candidate. The Whigs invited him to run for Congress, but
" I think you acted wisely in declining a nomination for
Congress," wrote Judge Jay to his brother. " Had you been
elected, you would have found it difficult to satisfy a party so
many of whose leaders boast of their Jeffersonian Republica-
The result of the election was the complete overthrow of
the Democratic party.
The following letter expresses Mr. Jay's views on the
" NEW YORK, November 23, 1840.
" Dear William:
" I went to Rye on Tuesday last to set out some trees and
shrubs, and returned on Thursday, leaving the ground cov-
ered with two inches of snow. . . .
" I do not know what will be the consequences of the late
election, but I rejoice at the fall of the Van Buren Adminis-
tration, which I think has been the most corrupt we have
seen. The result in Tennessee shows the fickleness of popu-
lar favor. A few years ago, General Jackson could do as he
PETER A. JAY
pleased and kughed at all opposition, even when a majority
of Congress was against him; now, with all his efforts, he has
been unable to influence his own State, county, or town.
" The Whigs, whose bond of union has been a common
enemy, will probably divide, and what measures will be pur-
sued cannot be foreseen. Perhaps to do nothing will be
more expeditious than anything else; the dread of innova-
tions and the impossibility of calculating their effects has had
a most pernicious influence on all business. Let people alone,
and things will gradually recover. Unhappily we have no
statesmen in whom much confidence can be placed.
" I am, dear William,
" Your most affectionate brother,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" WILLIAM JAY, Esq.
General Harrison remained in office just one month, his
death occurring on April 4, 1841. Mr. Jay was invited by
the committee of arrangements to be one of the twenty-six
pallbearers, a number chosen to correspond with the number
of States in the Union.
It must not be forgotten that at this period great excitement
prevailed throughout the country relating to a dissension
which had lately arisen about the boundary-line between the
State of Maine and the British province of New Brunswick,
commonly known as " the Northeastern Boundary question."
The subject, agitated for a long time, threatened danger to
the peaceful relations which subsisted between the United
MR. JAY TO ADMIRAL WHITE, R. N.
States and Great Britain. Eventually it was settled by a
treaty dated August 20, 1842. The negotiations were con-
ducted at Washington by Daniel Webster, then Secretary of
State for the United States, and by Lord Ashburton for Great
The letter which follows takes its color from the times in
which it was written; it was addressed by Mr. Jay to his
cousin, formerly Captain, now Admiral, White of the Royal
" NEW YORK, March 8, 1841.
" My dear Sir :
"... I hope, as you do, that peace will be preserved
between our countries; and it is so much the interest of both
that I cannot yet believe that it will be disturbed. One
regiment would, in one year, cost as much as the whole value
of the land in dispute on our north-eastern frontier. By-the-
bye, I perceive that the English papers take for granted that
our claim is unjust and fraudulent. This is certainly not so.
I have in my possession a large map, formerly belonging to
my father, which was used by the Ministers who signed the
Treaty of Peace, on which the Boundary Line, as marked by
Mr. Oswald, the British Minister, is laid down exactly in ac-
cordance with the American claim.
" As to the business of the Caroline, both parties are in the
wrong. When our people committed hostile acts on your
side of the line, you hanged or transported them, and we did
not complain. Now you threaten us with war for imitating
your example. If the officers of Don Carlos had attacked and
PETER A. JAY
destroyed, in an English harbor, a transport having on board
Colonel Evans and his troops, avowedly going to assist his
enemies, what would your Government have said? . . .
" That you may long enjoy health and happiness is the
sincere wish of,
" Dear Sir,
" Your friend and servant,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Admiral WHITE."
An institution known as the Public School Society, of
which Mr. Jay had for many years been a trustee, received an
annual appropriation from the State for educational purposes.
The appropriation was made with the distinct reservation
that it should not be used in promulgating the views of any
religious sect or organization. The Roman Catholics, in or-
der to possess themselves of a share of this fund, contended
that the Public School Society, in violating their trust, had
forfeited their right to the benefits of the fund. The Catho-
lics claimed that a Protestant Bible was read in the schools of
the Public School Society, and that Protestant tenets were
taught there. The subject excited public attention. Mr. Jay
was earnestly importuned to serve in the Assembly to combat
the contentions of the Catholics, but he replied that the state
of his health obliged him to decline the nomination. At
length a Bill was introduced in the Legislature which led to
bitter and acrimonious debate but later it was determined
to distribute the fund under the same reservation, so that
Catholics and Protestants might both share in the distribution.
MARRIAGE OF ANNA MARIA JAY
Later still the new system gained so much in popular favor,
that the Public School Society, after an existence of fifty years
and upwards, was in 1853 dissolved by an Act of the Legis-
This year (1841), on the 1st of December, the house in
Broadway was made cheerful by the marriage of another
daughter of Mr. Jay Anna Maria to Henry Evelyn Pierre-
Mr. Jay had now nearly attained his sixty-sixth year. Of
eight children only three remained at home with him, and
these were the youngest, all the others having married. Af-
ter his death, Peter Augustus married Missjosephine Pearson,
and Susan Matilda married Matthew Clarkson. Elizabeth
remained unmarried. All his children survived him but his
eldest daughter, Mrs. Prime, whose death has already been
Occasionally during the summer, Mr. Jay, with his daugh-
ters, would take a trip to Saratoga Springs, Philadelphia, or
elsewhere. Frequently he would exchange visits with Judge
Jones, whose home was at Massapequa, Long Island. In the
spring of 1 842, taking with him Elizabeth, he went to Newton
Falls, Ohio, to visit his daughter Helen Du Bois.
On his return, he writes to his brother William:
"NEW YORK, May 7, 1842.
" Dear William:
" I have made a visit to Helen, going by way of Buffalo and
Lake Erie and returning through Pennsylvania. I found Dr.
PETER A. JAY
Du Bois very much improved in health, and Helen better
than when she went to Ohio, though still weak and troubled
with pain in her chest.
" The State of Ohio is more improved than I expected. It
is full of flourishing villages, and the soil, so far as I saw it, is
" The State of Pennsylvania, south of the mountains, is also
very fertile and extremely well cultivated. North of the Al-
leghanies and all through Ohio there is an abundance of bitu-
minous coal of excellent quality. It can usually be purchased
at the pits for five cents the bushel, and is in very general use
even where the trees are burned upon the ground to get rid of
them. But in both States they are suffering for want of cur-
rency. The banks have resumed specie payments, but have
withdrawn their bills from circulation, so that scarcely any
money can be obtained except the notes of non-specie banks
in Indiana and other States where there has been no resump-
tion and which are at a gieat discount. I had no difficulty
in passing New York money, and though I took gold with
me, brought almost all of it back.
" Mr. Giddings was a day and a night in a canal-boat with
me on his return to Congress. His election took place while
I was at Newton Falls. There was no excitement; the elec-
tion was over in one day, and was very quiet. The consti-
tuents are nearly all opposed to slavery and Southern policy.
You are quite popular there. . . .
" The journey has improved my health, which for the past
six months has been very indifferent. A month later it
would have been more agreeable. I made it earlier in order
ASHBURTON DINNER CORRESPONDENCE
to have the company of F. Prime, who went with me to the
Doctor's, but left us there.
" The Pennsylvania Canal, I am satisfied, cannot rival ours.
Nevertheless, their line of Canals and Railroads is a great
work, but will never, I think, pay interest on the money it cost.
" Our love to all your family.
" I am, dear William,
" Your affectionate brother,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" WILLIAM JAY, Esq.,
Ten days after the Ashburton Treaty had been signed, a
public dinner was given to Lord Ashburton in New York, at
which Mr. Jay presided. The invitation to preside was tend-
ered to him by letter and in person:
" NEW YORK, August 25, 1842.
" The undersigned, a committee of arrangements, request,
as a favor, that you will consent to preside at the public dinner
to be given to Lord Ashburton on the 1st of September,
" We will not, and do not, anticipate a refusal. At the
same time, we may be allowed to say that there appears to us
a peculiar fitness in having the son of that Revolutionary
father who signed the first Treaty with Great Britain after our
Independence, to preside at the present celebration.
" Great Britain, in order to prove her earnest desire to
settle all difficulties between the two countries, has on this
PETER A. JAY
occasion sent a Minister of high rank and advanced age to
treat with us at our own capital.
" With great esteem,
" Your obedient servants,
" JAMES LEE,
" WM. B. ASTOR,
" THEODORE SEDGWICK,
" STEPHEN WHITNEY,
" JAMES DE PEYSTER OGDEN,
" JAMES G. KING,
" PROSPER M. WETMORE,
" GEORGE GRISWOLD.
"PETER A. JAY, Esq."
" RYE, Saturday, August 27, 1842.
" Afy dear Sister :
" It was my intention to go to Bedford, . . . but yesterday
three gentlemen, Mr. de Peyster Ogden, Mr. Griswold and
Mr. Theodore Sedgwick, came up from New York, being
sent by the committee of arrangements to request that I would
preside at a dinner to be given to Lord Ashburton on Thurs-
day next, and they pressed me so much that I very reluctantly
" As soon as the dinner is over I will come up, and can
then spend some days with you.
" I am, my dear sister,
" Your affectionate brother,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
" Mrs. BANYER."
SPEECH OF LORD ASHBURTON
The dinner took place on Thursday evening, September 1,
1842, at the Astor House, and was one of the most notable
gatherings in the history of the city of New York. About
two hundred guests attended, whose number included many
men distinguished throughout both State and nation. The
room was tastefully decorated with flags and draperies, among
which were hung banners bearing in large letters the legends,
" Great Britain and the United States," " The Treaty," and
"Ashburton Washington Webster: 1842."
Lord Ashburton was escorted into the room by Mr. Prosper
M. Wetmore, and was seated between Mr. Jay (who occupied
the chair) and the Rev. Dr. Wainwright. After a toast to
" the President of the United States " and to " the Queen of
Great Britain and Ireland," Mr. Jay proposed a toast to " Our
guest, Lord Ashburton: Happiness and honor to him who
has contributed to preserve peace between two great nations."
Lord Ashburton, on rising to speak, was received with
great applause. In a felicitous way he referred to the occu-
pant of the chair as " the immediate descendant of a man
whose name, as long as honor or virtue or patriotism is prized,
will be forever venerated. I mean," he said, " Mr. Jay, who
in his day was eminently successful in his mission of peace and
conciliation, a mission, now closed, having the same ob-
jects in view, being lately entrusted to me." Lord Ashbur-
ton dwelt on the early part of his life, spent in commercial
pursuits, and said he had hoped to spend the remainder of it
in that quiet and peace which a life of industry had secured
for him; but when an opportunity offered to keep in har-
mony two great countries on the verge of hostilities, this ob-
PETER A. JAY
ject precluded all thoughts of personal comfort. Again al-
luding to the elder Jay, he added that the task allotted to him
was a more arduous task, undertaken as it was under circum-
stances which rendered the voice of a messenger of peace
difficult to be heard; yet, nevertheless, he supported the in-
dependence of his country, and at the same time kept it aloof
from the great war which was then raging in Europe. In
concluding, Lord Ashburton desired to express his homage
to that great man, Mr. Webster, who was so largely instru-
mental in the settlement of the difficulties.
The next toast was " Daniel Webster/* Mr. Webster being
ill and unable to be present. The toast was responded to by
the Hon. David E. Evans. The giant intellect and noble
patriotism of the Secretary of State was Mr. Evans's theme.
Other toasts were responded to by Philip Hone, Commo-
dore Perry, James de Peyster Ogden, General Tallmadge,
James W. Gerard, Lord John Hay, Robert H. Morris, Mayor
of New York, and Thomas C. Grattan.
A letter of regret from John Quincy Adams was read, and
after a few remarks by Lord Ashburton expressing the great
pleasure he had experienced during the day and evening, the
meeting adjourned at twelve o'clock.
Lord Ashburton (formerly Mr. Alexander Baring) was at
that time senior member of the great banking house of Baring
Brothers and Company of London. Mr. Joshua Bates of
Massachusetts was also a prominent member of the firm.
Lord Ashburton received many civilities in this country,
which no doubt helped to lighten the task that occupied him.
NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
In the year 1805 the New York Historical Society was in-
corporated, with Egbert Benson as its first President, Oc-
cupying this office, a goodly array of names follow: Gouver-
neur Morris, 1816; De Witt Clinton, 1817; David Hosack,
1820; James Kent, 1827; Morgan Lewis, 1832; Peter Gerard
Mr. Jay, who had served as its Vice-President, was made
its President, in 1840, in succession to Mr. Stuyvesant, a
position which he continued to hold during the remainder of
Previous to Mr. Jay's incumbency the Society had led a
somewhat wandering existence, without a permanent home
anywhere. In the year following his induction to the presi-
dency he received from Mr. Stuyvesant a letter to which the
following was a reply:
" NEW YORK, January 20, 1841.
" I have laid before the New York Historical Society your
letter containing an offer of two lots of ground for the erec-
tion of a fire-proof building for the reception of their books
and manuscripts, on condition that they raise funds for that
purpose by the 1st May next; and I am now to return you
their hearty thanks for this very liberal offer.
" Whether it will be in their power to comply with the
condition is uncertain, but in every event they will acknow-
ledge with pleasure the generous and friendly disposition
which prompted you to this act of munificence.
PETER A. JAY
" With great respect and esteem,
" I am, in behalf of the Society,
" Your very obedient servant,
" PETER AUGUSTUS JAY,
" PETER G. STUYVESANT, Esq."
Arrangements were made to enable the Society to comply
with the conditions contingent with the gift; a suitable build-
ing was erected on the site, which has continued to be the
home of the Library for over half a century. It is located at
170 Second Avenue, nearly opposite St. Mark's Episcopal
Mr. Jay's learning and education were recognized by many
institutions, and this further testimony of his worth in his
selection as the Society's President evoked an earnestness and
faithfulness in his administration surpassed by none of his
predecessors. He was a large contributor to the Library.
His benefactions embraced much curious and most valuable
material, including a rare list of newspapers printed long
before the Revolution, and which were, probably, an inherit-
ance from his father.
Mr. Jay was always most solicitous touching the objects
of the Society. He was desirous that the Association should
restrict itself to its specified designation. Everything rela-
tive to its historical transactions he would cherish, for he
deemed New York the theatre in which the great events of the
period of our Colonization and of the War of Independence
took place. It is in no wise remarkable, he would say, that
HIS LITERARY BENEFACTIONS
the Library was so rich in newspapers and other periodical
journals. A file of newspapers, he thought, was " of far
more value to our design than all the Byzantine historians."
The annual Commencement of Columbia College was held
in the Middle Dutch Church on Cedar Street on October 4,
1 842. The customary exercises were preceded by the inaugu-
ration of the President-elect, Nathaniel F. Moore, LL.D.
Dr. Moore had received the appointment upon the resigna-
tion of President William A. Duer. As Chairman of the
Board of Trustees, Mr. Jay delivered the inaugural address, to
which Dr. Moore responded. The attendance was much
greater than usual; many distinguished persons were present,
among them the Governor of the State. The subject of Mr.
Jay's address was mainly a vindication of the collegiate course
of study in the face of popular objections, while President
Moore dwelt upon the responsibilities of the office. Both
addresses are reported to have been productions of merit; Mr.
Jay's was spoken of at the time as being distinguished for its
ability and classic beauty.
At the ensuing meeting of the New York Historical Society,
in January, Mr. Jay again received the nomination as Presi-
dent, but other engagements and impaired health obliged him
to decline it. The Society then submitted the following re-
solution, which was unanimously adopted:
" Resolved, that the thanks of this Society are due to the
Hon. Peter A. Jay, LL.D., its late President, for the dignity,
courtesy and impartiality with which he has during the last
three years presided over the deliberations of the Society."
In reviewing Mr. Jay's life it may mean little to those of the
PETER A. JAY
present generation to be told that during his professional
career he was retained by the District Attorney to assist him
in the famous conspiracy trial of Jacob Barker and others; or
that he won the " Brick Church suit " in 1826, making an able
and ingenious argument; or, yet again, that he was engaged
in unravelling the intricacies of the great Jauncey will case in
the early thirties. The records of the courts of chancery and
of common law, crowded though they are with cases in which
he was engaged, furnish but a dim outline and bear but frag-
mentary testimony to the successes of forty years of active
practice. The cases have been won and lost; both plaintiff
and defendant have long since gone their way; counsel have
been forgotten ; only the legal principle enounced by the judge
Of far more significance for our purpose is it to recall the
fact that he fought his battles at the Bar in conjunction with,
or in opposition to, such men as Ogden and Duer, Hoffman
and Butler; Lansing, Kent and Wai worth being upon the
" throne of Equity," and Spencer and Jones upon the Bench;
that, in addition to banks, insurance companies and other
corporations, he numbered among his clients the names of
many of New York's most prominent citizens. In the ma-
nagement of estates and as a real-estate lawyer Mr, Jay was
also distinguished. It is related by a contemporary that upon
one occasion, when in court, the title to a piece of property
being in dispute, the lawyer submitted to the Judge that since
the title had been drawn by Peter A. Jay, nothing more was
necessary a sentiment warmly endorsed by the Judge, who
straightway passed the title.
REVIEW OF HIS LIFE
Gifted with a logical mind and with that subtle perspicacity
which is wont to disarm an opponent, Mr. Jay was often able
to direct his argument with telling effect. Perhaps no better
instance of this could be cited than in an address which he
made at the founding of the American Bible Society, where
he says :
" Though the diffusion of the Scriptures is the great end of
the Institution, yet another blessing will spring from it. Too
long have Christians been divided. Sect has been opposed
to sect, angry controversy has agitated the Church, misre-
presentations have been made and believed, and good men
who ought to have loved each other have been kept asunder
by prejudices which, in truth, owed their origin to ignor-
ance. . . .
" Do any refuse to join us because we differ from them in
the interpretation of the Scriptures? Let them remember
that we distribute those Scriptures without any interpretation.
Is it right to make known the Word of God? Then let
them assist us in doing so. Are we friends or enemies? If
friends, why refuse to do good in our company? Are we
enemies? Then are they not commanded to do good to us?
And if so, will they refuse to do good with us? "
It has been seen that Mr. Jay was averse to holding political
office, and only yielded at times in that respect out of defer-
ence to his friends. To one as closely associated as he was
with the leaders of the Federalists, the decline of that party in
the beginning of the century and the subsequent bitter parti-
san strifes rendered political activity distasteful to him. Al-
though preferring the quieter pursuits of his profession, he
PETER A. JAY
occasionally did throw himself into the political whirl, and
then, as Judge William W. Van Ness once said in speaking of
his bearing in the legislative debates, " he was his father all
In the Constitutional Convention of 1821 Mr. Jay displayed
great restraint and consistency of character. It may, indeed,
be said that " there were giants in the convention in those
days," and no more difficult task was performed than that of
the unswerving minority in that body, of whom, with Chan-
cellor Kent and Chief Justice Spencer, Mr. Jay made one in
preventing the " ancient landmarks " of the Constitution
from being swept away.
But it is not our purpose to review here the achievements
of a life spent in the service of State, of Church and of Huma-
nity. No higher tribute to Mr. Jay's character could be paid
than that by the Hon. Benjamin D. Silliman when, advanced
in years and having earned the title of " Nestor of the Bar,"
he said of Mr. Jay:
" In the nearly sixty years that I have been at the bar, no
man has had a more exalted standing. His great learning and
strength of intellect, his masterly reasoning, his wisdom and
his pre-eminent moral excellence, combined with his ingrain-
ed thorough refinement and dignity as a gentleman, made
him a very marked and remarkable jurist and member of
society. In every question of ethics or moral right his word
was law. I believe that his arguments and written opinions
were marked not only by great legal erudition and logical
power, but by broad and rare general learning, illustrating
the history of the law involved in the case and its application
MRS. BANYER AND MISS JAY
to the questions involved. Such was the character of his
opinions which I have read."
Mr. Jay's two sisters, Mrs. Banyer and Miss Ann Jay, and
his brother William survived him.
" The sisters were widely known and as widely honored.
They were so much one in all their feelings and efforts, their
two lives so blended and flowed on together, that what we
might say concerning each would be true of both " so wrote
the Rev. Dr. Cooke of St. Bartholomew's, then in La Fayette
Place, the church which the sisters attended. In a memorial
sermon Dr. Cooke added : " They were not, however, entirely
alike; and if as Christians we were to compare them, for the
sake of gaining a nearer view of their characters, with any of
the saints whose lives are familiar to us, we should say that
the one first called [Ann Jay] had more the characteristics of
St. Paul, and the other [Mrs. Banyer] of St. John. Both
were noble witnesses for Christ, and the world is darker now
that their lights are quenched. Thus lived, and thus almost
together died, these two sisters."
Miss Ann Jay's death occurred on Thursday, November
13, 1856, and Mrs. Banyer died on Friday of the next week.
William Jay was a stanch champion of the cause of negro
emancipation; his name is indissolubly connected with it.
He was also very active in the promotion of many other
public and worthy interests, being a lifelong worker in the
cause of temperance, and for a number of years a member and
President of the Peace Society. " His philanthropy," says
his biographer, " was religious in its motive and practical in
PETER A. JAY
its activity/' Quoting from a letter of Bishop Coxe, who
was a frequent visitor at Bedford in his youth, the same
authority writes: " There was much of the Huguenot in the
piety of the Judge, but nothing of the Puritan. He was little
seen, but greatly felt." For more than twenty-five years he
exercised the duties of Judge of Westchester County. Early
in life Mr. Jay married Augusta, daughter of John McVickar,
a merchant of New York. " She lived to be her husband's
sympathetic companion," writes Mr. Tuckerman, the bio-
grapher, " until 1 856, when he himself was near his end. Her
accomplishments added much to the happiness of Jay's life."
" Her sweet simplicity and dignity," said the late Bishop
Potter, " bespoke a peaceful and elevated spirit, and made
an impression on the most transient visitor never to be
Judge Jay died at Bedford, October 14, 1858.
Peter A. Jay had for many years been connected with the
Corporation for the Relief of the Widows and Children of
Clergymen, etc. As Treasurer of this Society, and to protect
its property, he made a journey to Schenectady in midwinter.
The cold was intense, and when it is remembered that the
conveniences and protection from the weather which now
attend travelling did not then exist, it will be seen that the
discomforts must have been great. After an absence of eight
days, Mr. Jay returned to the city, apparently well, though
owning to fatigue. He met, at a dinner given by Mr. Stuy-
vesant, many of his friends. On Wednesday, the 15th of
February, while writing in his library, a chill came, which
was followed by another chill on the next day. He refused
DEATH OF PETER A. JAY
to see a doctor until Friday. Dr. Watts was then sent for,
and other medical aid after wards secured. On Saturday he
remained in bed. On Sunday he realised his illness, seeming
to understand perfectly his condition and the treatment of the
doctors. His breathing was labored and occasioned much
suffering, and he asked his daughter Eliza to pray for him.
The disease pneumonia now made rapid progress. On
Monday his strength began to fail. In the afternoon his
children gathered around the bed and asked him to say
something to them, for he was apparently in possession of all
his faculties. With great difficulty, owing to his labored
breathing, he replied, " I cannot say much," and after an in-
terval he added, " My children, read your Bible and believe
it." A lethargic sleep followed. Later he awoke, sent a
kiss to his daughter Helen (Mrs. Du Bois), recognized his
sisters, Mrs. Banyer and Miss Ann Jay, and his brother-in-
law, Mr. Goodhue, but did not speak again. The Rev. Mr.
Balch offered a prayer. Mr. Jay seemed to be listening; with
the conclusion of the prayer, his breathing died impercep-
His death occurred at his residence, No. 398 Broadway, on
Monday, February 20, 1843, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.
The funeral services were held in St. John's Chapel, St.
John's Park, on the afternoon of the 22d, and the burial took
place on the next day in the Jay cemetery at Rye.
The remains were placed in a grave next to that of Mrs.
Jay. An obelisk of white marble resting on a stone base,
which Mr. Jay caused to be erected on the occasion of his
PETER A. JAY
wife's death, now bears the following commemorative in-
THE REMAINS OF
MARY RUTHERFURD JAY,
PETER AUGUSTUS JAY.
SHE WAS BORN
JULY 2, 1786,
BELOVED, HONORED AND LAMENTED
AND VOID OF FEAR,
DECEMBER 24, 1838,
AT FUNCHAL IN THE
ISLAND OF MADEIRA.
THE REMAINS OF
PETER AUGUSTUS JAY,
ELDEST SON OF JOHN JAY,
BORN JANUARY 24, 1776,
DIED FEBRUARY 20, 1843.
HE DIED AS HE HAD LIVED,
AN HUMBLE, DEVOTED AND
HIS LATEST WORDS WERE,
" MY CHILDREN, READ
THE BIBLE AND
Peter Augustus Jay had many friends, and the public an-
nouncement of his death carried with it much sorrow. The
press with great unanimity extolled his virtues and regretted
RESOLUTIONS ON HIS DEATH
the loss the community would suffer in his decease. The
law courts immediately adjourned after appropriate remarks
by the judges.
The proceedings at the Court of General Sessions, over
which Mr. Jay had formerly presided as Recorder, were con-
cluded with remarks on the death of Mr. Jay by James R.
Whiting, District Attorney of New York, who offered the
following resolutions :
" Resolved, That this Court have heard with no ordinary
feelings of regret of the decease of PeterA. Jay, so long known
as one of those occupying the first rank in the legal profession.
" Resolved, That Mr. Jay's distinguished position during the
early periods of our national and State existence, his upright-
ness and integrity in private life, his acquirements as a scholar,
and his long continuance with honor and credit in the field of
public service and as presiding Judge of this County, demand
from the Court the expression of thek regret for his death,
their sympathy with his surviving relatives and thek respect
for his memory.
" Resolved, That the Clerk enter these resolutions on the
minutes of this Court, and transmit a copy, duly authenti-
cated, to the family of the deceased."
At the opening of the Superior Court, Chief-Justice Jones
addressed the Court as follows :
" Upon the announcement of the death of our estimable
friend and brother, Peter A. Jay, I cannot forbear to express
my deep sense of the loss we have sustained in his decease.
PETER A. JAY
I have known him most intimately from the earliest period of
life, and from that period to the lamented hour of his decease
I have ever loved and respected him. The name of Peter A.
Jay has ever been associated with all that was lofty and honor-
able. He was among the most talented, high-minded and
purest of men, and one of the most distinguished members of
the Bar. He commanded through life the respect, esteem
and high regard of all who knew him. He was the lawyer,
the scholar and the gentleman."
A meeting of the Bar was called at the Superior Court room
on the morning of the 22d of February. A large attendance
was present and Ex-Chancellor Kent presided. After a few
appropriate and eloquent remarks by the Hon. David B.
Ogden, the following resolutions were offered:
" Resolved, That we receive with deep regret the communi-
cation of the death of our lamented friend and brother, Peter
A. Jay, long an esteemed and distinguished member of the
New York Bar, and one of its brightest ornaments.
" Resolved, That the members of the New York Bar, in
common with their fellow citizens, feel that by this melan-
choly event they have sustained a loss to be deplored and
exciting feelings of impressive and abiding interest. The
professional and social intercourse of our venerable and
highly esteemed brother with the members of the Bench and
the Bar, his uniformly ingenuous, just and honorable course
in all his relations to them, had endeared him to all who knew
him; while the high order of his intellect secured him their
admiration and regard. In a long course of professional, and
RESOLUTIONS ON HIS DEATH
during the brief but brilliant term of his judicial life, both as
a jurist and as a judge his eminent abilities, the simplicity and
purity of his character, and the estimable qualities of his heart
gained him the warmest affections of his friends and the res-
pect, esteem and confidence of the whole circle of his fellow
citizens. In him was seen the dignified, the intellectual and
respectful advocate, with the courtesy of the gentleman, and
the pure, disinterested friend and adviser. It may be most
truly said of him that those who knew him best admired,
esteemed and loved him most.
" Resolved, That the members of the Bat, as a token of
respect for the memory of their deceased friend, will wear the
customary badge of mourning for thirty days, and will attend
his funeral this afternoon.
" Resolved, That a copy of the proceedings of this meeting,
signed by the Chairman and Secretary, be transmitted to the
family of the deceased and published in the daily papers of
Chancellor Kent then made an impressive address, and
upon the passage of the above resolutions the meeting ad-
As an accompaniment to what has preceded it, that which
is subjoined invites attention as further testimony of Mr. Jay's
worth and influence. The following resolutions were passed
at a large public meeting of colored citizens, held at Philo-
mathean Hall, on the evening of February 27, " for the pur-
pose of expressing sentiments of condolence with the family
and friends of the lamented philanthropist, Peter Augustus
PETER A. JAY
" Rssobtd, That in the demise of Peter Augustus Jay, Esq.,
society has lost an invaluable member, humanity an unde-
viating advocate, the man of color a firm and tried friend, his
country a true patriot and the world a philanthropist.
" Resolved, That when we look at the public acts of the late
Hon. Peter A. Jay, his sincere and philanthropic maintenance
of our political rights, his early and unremitted exertions in
the Manumission Society, his interest in our educational and
religious advancement, we feel cause of thankfulness to Al-
mighty God for the gift and the life of such a great and good
man, such a benefactor of our despised race, such a sincere
and impartial republican; and now that he has departed from
the scenes of mortal existence, we esteem it a privilege to
linger gratefully and mournfully around his fresh-turned sod
and breathe our blessing on his honored memory.
" Resolved, That we sincerely condole with the family and
friends of the lamented Peter Augustus Jay in their severe
bereavement, and tender them this humble token of our
" Resolved, That Messrs. Aaron L. Poyer, Boston Crummell
and P. A. Bell be a committee to convey to the family of Hon.
Peter A. Jay the above resolutions.
(Signed) " WM. A. TYSON, Chairman,
" JNO. J. QUILLE, Secretary."
Before closing these memorials of Mr. Jay's life, it seems
fitting to add the resolutions passed in the little church at Rye,
which for long years he so constantly attended, and whose
rector was P. S. Chauncy, a son of Commodore Chauncy.
RESOLUTIONS ON HIS DEATH
At a meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church, Rye, con-
vened, at the request of the Rector, on Wednesday, the 1st of
March, 1843, the following resolutions were adopted:
" Resolved, That we have heard with unfeigned regret of
the death of our venerable and esteemed associate, Hon.
Peter Augustus Jay.
" Resolved, That while we desire to recognize in this heavy
dispensation the hand of God, and to submit to his blessed
will, we cannot but express our sense of the loss which has
been sustained by this vestry, church and community in the
death of one whose example and precepts both tended to the
glory of God, the honor of his church and the happiness of
" Resolved, That we will ever entertain the most grateful
recollection of the interest manifested by Mr. Jay in the pros-
perity of our church and the purity of life by which he adorn-
ed his Christian profession.
" Resolved, That a copy of these proceedings be entered on
the minutes of this vestry, and that another copy, signed by
the Rector and Secretary, be sent to the family of the deceased.
" P. S. CHAUNCY, Rector.
" JAMES D. HALSTED, Sec'y."
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
PETER AUGUSTUS JAY,
LATE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEC'D
I, PETER AUGUSTUS JAY, make this my Last Will and Testament as
First. I return humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God for
the happiness I have enjoyed and the numerous blessings which
He has bountifully bestowed upon me, but above all for His in-
estimable love in the Redemption of mankind through our Lord
Jesus Christ, and for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
I dispose of my worldly estate as follows : I give and devise to my
son John Clarkson Jay and his heirs, all my real estate, situated in the
town of Rye in the county of Westchester. I give and devise to
my son Peter Augustus Jay and his heirs my lot or parcel of land in
the city of New York, bounded easterly in front by Broad Street,
southerly by Stone Street, northerly by land of my brother William
I have neither the power nor intention to render the parcels of
property above devised inalienable; but there are recollections and
circumstances connected with them which make me desirous that
they should remain in the family.
The lot in Broad Street was purchased by my great-grandfather
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
about 1720, and was the first land owned by our family in America.
At Rye repose the bones of my ancestors, of my wife and my dear
daughter. I earnestly request my sons not to sell or mortgage
I authorize and empower my brother William Jay to sell and
convey in fee my real estate in the county of Broome, and I direct
that the proceeds thereof be considered as part of my personal estate
and be divided and disposed of accordingly.
I give and devise all the residue of my real estate which I may be
seized of or entitled to at the time of my death to such of my children
as shall be then living, and to the child or children then living of
every child of mine who shall have died before me, as tenants in
fee; the child or children of a deceased child of mine taking the same
share only as his, her or their parent, if living, would be entitled to.
I give to my son John my brooch or breast-pin containing the
hair of General Washington, and to my son Peter Augustus my
Spanish fowling-piece and my gold watch.
I give to my excellent brother my sett of the Encyclopaedia, and I
desire each of my dear sisters to take from my library such and so
many books as she shall choose as tokens of my affection.
I direct my debts to be paid out of my personal estate. I give
to my son Peter Augustus one thousand dollars.
I give to my daughter Elizabeth three thousand dollars.
I give to my daughter Susan Matilda three thousand dollars.
I give to my son-in-law Henry A. Du Bois one thousand dolkrs.
I release to my son John the money for which I now hold his
I give to Giles Green, who has been long in my employment and
has served me faithfully, if he shall survive me, two hundred and
I give to Gesar Valentine, a black man, long a servant in my
family, an annuity of forty-eight dollars a year during his life, which
annuity I charge upon my estate at Rye, by the owner of which it is
PETER A. JAY
to be paid; and I request my children not to let him suffer if,
through age or infirmity, he should be unable to support himself
I give and bequeath all the residue of my personal estate to such
of my children as shall be living at the time of my death and to the
child or children of any child of mine who shall then be dead, the
child or children then living of a deceased child of mine taking the
same share only which his, her or their parent, if living, would be
In consideration of the advances I have already made for my son
John and the devise of the Rye estate, I charge his share of my
residuary real and personal estate with the sum of twelve thousand
dollars, to be paid by him in one year after my decease, and to be
divided and disposed of as part of the said residuary personal estate.
I direct that the share of the children of my dear deceased daugh-
ter Mary R. Prime in my residuary personal estate be paid to their
father, Frederick Prime, to be managed by him for their benefit.
I authorize my executors to lease and demise any part or parts of
my undivided residuary real estate for any term or terms of years
not exceeding twenty years, at such rents, on such condition as they
shall think expedient, and out of the rents and profits thereof to
keep the same in repair and to pay the taxes and assessments and the
expenses incidental there to, and to divide the rest among the persons
entitled to the property, itemized in proportion to their respective
I authorize my executors to make partition of my real estate
which at the time of my death I may be seized of or entitled to, in
common with any other person or persons, and to execute all proper
deeds and conveyances for that purpose, and every such partition
shall be binding on all persons claiming under me.
I authorize my executors, during the minority of any child of
mine, to sell and convey the interest of such child in any part or
parts of my real estate, and to pay over the proceeds of such sale to
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
the guardian of such child for the child's benefit; and such sales may
be made at auction or at private sale, for cash or on credit, or partly
for cash and partly for credit, as my executors shall think best.
I authorize my son-in-law Frederick Prime to sell and convey
the interest of his minor children in any part or parts of my resid-
uary real estate in like manner.
I authorize my brother William Jay to represent any child of
mine who shall be under lawful age, for the purpose of making
partition of all or any of my residuary estate among the persons en-
titled thereto, and to make such partition in behalf of such minor
children, and to execute proper deeds and conveyances for that
And I authorize the said Frederick Prime in like manner to re-
present each of the minor children of my deseased daughter Mary
for that like purpose and with the like powers. And every parti-
tion so made shall be as effectual and binding on all persons claim-
ing under me as if it had been made by the child or children so
represented when of full age. Such partition may be made from
time to time of any parts or parcels of my said residuary estate.
I authorize my executors to submit to arbitration or umpirage
all claims and demands by or against them, and to perform the
awards which shall be made thereon, and also to compromise and
compound debts due to my estate, and any claims and demands
they may have against others, and to accept less than the whole for
the whole, and property or securities of any kind in lieu of money;
and also to compromise and compound all claims and demands
against my estate or against them as executors and to pay money in
It is my will and I direct that all the powers and authority herein
given and confided to my executors may be executed by such one
or more of them as shall duly undertake the execution of this will
and the major part of them and the survivors and last survivor of
PETER A. JAY
I appoint my daughter Anna Maria Pierrepont guardian of her
sisters during their respective minorities, and my son John guar-
dian of his brother during the minority of the latter.
I appoint my sons John Qarkson Jay and Peter Augustus Jay,
and my sons-in-law Frederick Prime, William Dawson, Henry A.
Du Bois and Henry E. Pierrepont, executors of this will.
I hereby revoke all former wills and testaments by me made, and
declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal (the
word " neither " over the eighteenth line in the first page being
interlined, and word " children " in the seventh line of the third
page being obliterated) on the thirteenth day of April, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-two.
PETER AUGUSTUS JAY. (L.S.)
Subscribed, sealed, published and declared, by the said
Peter Augustus Jay as his Last Will and Testament in
presence of us, who, in his presence and at his request
and in presence of each other, have subscribed our names
as witnesses hereto.
FREDERICK DE PEYSTER,
residing at 88 University Place;
residing at 56 Bleecker Street.
William Livingston, Governor of New Jersey, was the son of
Philip and grandson of Robert, the latter the earliest American
ancestor of the Livingston family, and both known, respectively,
as the first and second Lords of the Manor. Philip, the signer of
the Declaration of Independence, was a brother of the Governor,
and Robert R. (Judge), the father of Robert R. the Chancellor, and
of Edward, author of" The Livingston Code," was the Governor's
first cousin. Henry Brockholst Livingston, son of the Governor,
was a Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judith (Jay) Van Home's son, Augustus Van Home, married her
sister Frances (Jay) Van Cortlandt's daughter, Anna Maria Van
Cortlandt, and they were the parents of Mrs. Thomas Streatfeild
Clarkson and Mrs. Levinus Clarkson.
Mary (Jay) Vallete had children, but no grandchildren.
The church referred to, Trinity Church, which had been erec-
ted after the Revolution and occupied the site of an earlier church,
was pulled down in 1839. The present building stands where the
former building stood.
The character sketch of his grandmother, Mrs. John Jay, by the
PETER A. JAY
kte Mr. John Jay, was a contribution to Mrs. Ellet's " Queens of
Dr. Valentine Seaman, Mr. Jay's companion in travel, was a
surgeon of the New York Hospital. He served the institution
twenty-one years, and died in office in 1817.
Mr. Peter A. Jay's maternal grandmother, Mrs. William Livings-
ton, and Mrs. Jay's paternal grandmother, Mrs. David Clarkson,
were daughters of Philip French.
Mrs. Peter A. Jay (Mary Rutherford Clarkson) was the only child
by the earlier marriage of her father, General Matthew Clarkson.
By his later marriage with Miss Sally Cornell (February 14, 1792),
a daughter of the late Samuel Cornell, Esq. (one of his Majesty's
Council for the Province of North Carolina), Mr. Clarkson had
seven children: Elizabeth, died unmarried; Catherine Rutherford,
married Jonathan Goodhue and had issue; David, married his first
cousin, Elizabeth Streatfeild Clarkson, and had issue; Matthew,
married his second cousin, Catherine Elizabeth Clarkson, and had
issue; William Bayard, married Adelaide Livingston and had issue;
Susan Maria, married James Ferguson de Peyster and had issue;
and Sarah Cornell, married Rev. William Richmond, no issue.
See " Cases of Contested Elections in Congress ": Case XXXVI,
Blydenberg and Jay vs. Sage and LefFerts of N. Y.
The elder Banyer wrote his name Goldsbrow Banyar; his son,
having the same name, changed the spelling to Goldsborough
Mary Duyckinck, the wife of Peter Jay (blind), was a daughter
of Evert Duyckinck and Elsie Hardenbroeck. Margaretta Harden-
broeck (probably a relative of Elsie) was the first wife of Frederick
Philipse; he subsequently married Catharine Van Cortlandt, and his
daughter, or adopted daughter, Eva, was the grandmother of Peter
Jay (blind). This is suggestive, perhaps, of the way Mr. Peter Jay
made the acquaintance of the lady he afterwards married.
Elsie Duyckinck was a sister of Mrs. Peter Jay. Elsie had mar-
ried John Dunscomb, and their daughter, Euphemia Dunscomb,
was the second wife of Frederick Jay, a brother of the above Peter
A grandnephew of Mrs. Peter Jay, Richard B. Duyckinck, mar-
ried Eliza H. Cornell; and her brother, Isaac R. Cornell, married
Elisabeth M. Duyckinck, a sister of the above Richard B. Duyckinck.
A brother and sister married a brother and sister.
To a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Duyckinck has des-
cended a silver tea-service (P. and M. J.), described as very hand-
some, which belonged to Peter and Mary Jay; and the Rev. John
Cornell of the Episcopal Church, a son of the above Mr. and Mrs.
Isaac R. Cornell, is the inheritor of a portrait of Mrs. Peter Jay.
The members of one of the orders of the Tammany Society in
New York wore the tails of deer in their hats on certain occasions.
They were called " Bucktails " by friends of Governor Clinton,
which term was later applied to all Anri-Clintonians in the State.
Mrs. Henry White (Eva Van Cortlandt) was born May 22, 1736,
and died August 19, 1836, at the great age of one hundred years,
two months and twenty-eight days. On May 13, 1761, she was
married to Mr. Henry White, one of the most prominent mer-
PETER A. JAY
chants of New York, and at one time President of its Chamber of
Commerce. In 1769 he was appointed one of His Majesty's Coun-
cil for the Province of New York. He returned to England in
1783, before the Evacuation; died in London, December 23, 1786;
and was buried in the churchyard at St. James's, Westminster, Pic-
cadilly. His widow subsequently took up her residence again in
They had four sons and three daughters: Henry; Sir John Cham-
bers White, an Admiral in the British Navy; Frederick Cortlandt
White, a General in the British Army ; William White ; Ann, married
Sir John MacNamara Hayes, Bart.; Margaret, married Peter Jay
Munro; and Frances, married Archibald Bruce, M.D.
The eldest son, Henry White, married his cousin Anne Van
Cortlandt, and their sons, Augustus and Henry, assumed the name
of Van Cortlandt and successively inherited the Yonkers Estate.
The other children of Mr. and Mrs. Henry White were: Helen,
married Abraham Schermerhorn; Catherine, married Richard Bay-
ley; Francina, married Dr. Groshong; Harriet, unmarried; and
Augusta, married Dr. E. N. Bibby: and to the eldest son of these
latter, Augustus Bibby, who assumed the Van Cortlandt name, the
Yonkers Estate descended upon the decease of the above Henry
(White) Van Cortlandt.
The sons of Mr. Peter Jay Munro were Peter Jay, died young;
Peter Jay, died unmarried; Henry, married Ann Margaret Bay ley
and had issue; John White, married Frances Augusta, daughter of
Dr. E. N. Bibby and widow of Thomas James de Lancey, had no